The Commission has sought a detailed report from the CS and the DGP in the matter within four weeks.
Taking exception to noncompliance of its order to check beggary and rehabilitation of those living on begging, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a final reminder to the Social Security & Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Department of the Odisha government.
The apex rights body sought personal appearance of officials concerned in the event of non-submission of a compliance report.
Citing suggestions to eradicate beggary, especially the organized Beggars rackets, lawyer and rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy had filed a petition before the NHRC.
Poor children, women and differently-abled persons were being forced into beggary, due to which rackets of beggary exist, the petition stated while citing a couple of instances of beggary, wherein children were being forced to beg by their fathers, in order to fulfill their alcohol addiction in Ganjam district.
Pursuant to the notice of the NHRC, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India has formulated an umbrella scheme “SMILE – Support for Marginalized Individuals for Livelihood and Enterprise for Comprehensive Rehabilitation of persons engaged in the act of Begging’.
It covered a comprehensive welfare and rehabilitation measures including providing shelter-home, food, clothes, health care facilities, counselling and provisions of rehabilitation like education / bridge course for children, vocational training/skill development and financial assistant for entrepreneurship.
Currently, 19 States and 3 Union territories have either enacted their own Anti Begging Legislation or adopted the legislation enacted by other States. These Anti Begging Acts are mostly based on the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959.
“The petitioner (Tripathy) has raised a pan- India issue and has presented that, with the advancement of time, begging has transformed into an organized crime and has found deep roots in the society, such problems that have interwoven in the societal fabric and are often taken as a usual occurrence, requires comprehensive approach to trace, identify and uproot it”, the NHRC observed.
The State of Odisha failed to reply on the steps taken by the Odisha state Government to check and prohibit and control the menace of begging and for the rehabilitation and welfare of the victims and their families.
The Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment and the Secretary, Social Security & Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Department of Odisha Government were earlier directed by the apex rights panel to get the allegations, made in the complaint, and looked into and to submit an Action Taken Report within four weeks. However, the authorities concerned had failed to furnish ATR as directed by the NHRC.
“The response is to be submitted within 6 weeks, failing which the Commission shall be constrained to invoke action under section 13 Protection of Human Rights Act,1993 and ensure physical appearance of the concerned authority before the Commission and explain”, the NHRC stated in its latest order.