The Bombay High Court has directed the Maharashtra government to go through and respond to the issues raised in a public interest litigation against the alleged inaction of the state and the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to curb begging by women and children.
The court observed that rescuing women and children, keeping them in confinement for a period of time and then releasing them would not solve the issue of begging and the state should come up with a policy in compliance with an earlier order of the high court.
A division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Revati Mohite Dere, while hearing the PIL filed by Dhyandeshwar Darwatkar through advocate Shekhar Jagtap, was informed that a survey of the city by a Pune NGO in 2016 had revealed that about 10,000 children were begging on the streets. Jagtap submitted that his client, an activist, had been working on eradication of begging among children and women for the past six years but there had been lack of action on the part of the state and the PMC, so begging has continued unabated.
Jagtap also referred to the Prevention of Begging Act, 1959, and pointed out that the state was obliged to provide rehabilitation and reformation of persons found begging. He added that in 2016 a bench of justice A S Oka had also directed the state to frame a policy in this regard and hence, the state should be directed to do so immediately.
After hearing the submissions, the bench observed that as the issues raised in the petition were of extreme importance, it wanted advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni to appear for the state in the matter and also peruse the petition and respond to it on the next hearing on August 25.