Publicise helpline number 1098 to deal with child begging: Delhi HC

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New Delhi, Jul 9 (PTI) The Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the authorities to publicise child helpline number 1098 to deal with instances of begging by children in the national capital.

A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan, while dealing with a PIL against child begging, was informed by the Delhi government that any person can report such an incident on the helpline, and a mechanism has been created to then counsel and send the child to either their parental home or a child care institution.

The court closed the PIL after taking on record the stand of the authorities and asked the Delhi government to file an affidavit showing compliance after eight weeks.

"The writ petition is disposed of...Respondents are directed to ensure publicity is given to the child helpline number 1098," the bench, also comprising Justice Tushar Rao Gedela, ordered.

Represented by standing counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi, the Delhi government assured the court that the mechanism is in place to ensure timely response to incidents of begging by children.

He said steps are also being taken to identify out-of-school children and ensure that they are admitted to schools.

The government, which was also represented by lawyer Arun Panwar, stated the Delhi Police also take action whenever information is received with respect to violation of rights of children.

In its status report, the Delhi government said its Department of Women and Child Development plays a crucial role in combating child begging through its 'District Child Protection Units' which are tasked with identifying and rehabilitating vulnerable children involved in begging.

It said comprehensive awareness programmes are carried out in collaboration with field agencies like Aaganwadi, police and NGOs to educate communities about the risks and consequences of child begging and encourage reporting of the same.

A "Standard Operating Procedure for Care and Protection of Children in Street Situations", as framed by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, is already in place and efforts are made to give the rescued children access to education, including vocational training, added the latest status report filed in the matter.

The report further said counselling services are also provided to support the emotional and psychological well-being of these children as they undergo the process of rehabilitation and integration into mainstream society.

Petitioner Ajay Gautam had filed the PIL in 2021 seeking eradication of begging by children. The high court had earlier issued notices to the Centre, Delhi government and the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) on the plea.

The petitioner had sought directions to authorities to rehabilitate children involved in begging and to identify and arrest those who are “pushing women using toddlers, teenage girls and small children into begging and... crime” and exploiting young girls.

In his plea, Gautam alleged that in spite of the presence of beggars in every part of the city, the authorities had failed to take any remedial steps to curb the menace. PTI ADS ADS SK SK