20 July : A meeting was convened by Home Secretary-cum-Secretary Social Welfare for evolving some mechanism for checking the menace of beggary in the Union Territory of Chandigarh, which was attended by senior officers of the administration viz. DC, ADC, SSP, Legal Remembrance, DSW, SDMs and representatives of the NGOs bodies who are actually involved in the field of street children .Haryana Prevention of Beggary Act, 1971 has been extended to the Union Territory of Chandigarh. Under Section 2 of this Act beggar means any person who is found begging; soliciting or receiving alms in a public place whether or not under any pretence, such as singing, dancing, fortune-telling, performing tricks or selling articles.
Under Section 4 of the Act, the person who is found begging and convicted will be detained in a certified institution in accordance with the provisions of Section 7 for a period of not less then one year and not more than two years.
Under Section 5 of the Act, when a person is convicted for the second time, the court shall order him to be detained in the certified institution for a period not less than one year and not more than three years.
The Home Secretary-cum-SSW expressed the views in the meeting that despite such harsh punishment provided under the Act, the menace of begging is increasing day by day. There is a need to implement the Act in letter and spirit to curb the menace of beggary which is increasing. People are openly giving alms to beggars thereby encouraging them to continue with crime of begging. All types of beggary is prohibited under the said Act and there is a need to spread the message amongst the citizens that they should not give alms to the beggars to discourage begging.
The Home Secretary-cum-SSW desired that on all the traffic signals, message should be conveyed to the public through Public Address System of Chandigarh Police that the begging is a crime and people should discourage the beggars.
Extensive Drive should be launched for prevention of beggary by the police in association with SDMs and NGOs. The strategic locations such as Sector 15, 17 and 37, Fun Republic, Manimajra, Sector 20 Round about should be raided for nabbing of beggars by setting up of flying squads. The beggars are required to be booked under the penal provisions of Haryana Prevention of Beggary Act, 1971, the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and sent to the certified institutions like Nari-Niketan, Old Age Home, Sector 15 and the Juvenile Home, Sector 25, Chandigarh by taking necessary orders from the Competent Courts. The Home Secretary directed the SSP to launch the drive immediately.
It was also felt that Municipal Corporation should also actively expedite its drive against this problem. The Chairman further desired that the beggars lodged in the institutions should be given proper clothing and regular check up. NGOs bodies should also be involved for their counseling and education.
During the discussions/deliberations, it was also felt by the members and NGOs that without making the people/residents aware the drive against beggar will not achieve its purpose unless and until, are made aware about the provisions of the Act to curb the menace of beggary. There is a need to generate awareness about the provisions of Haryana Prevention of Beggary Act 1971 which is enforced in the Union Territory of Chandigarh through public notices in the print media.