Begging is an inevitable social phenomenon in the country of India, although various laws and preventive measures being introduced and begging made a crime in India, the effectiveness of the same is still a question.
The main reason for failure is the lack of awareness about their rights and safeguards provided by the government to the beggars. The anti-beggary laws completely criminalize the act of begging, which is also not effective and a wrong approach towards these disadvantaged people.
The approach taken by the legislation that ‘Idleness is the key to Begging’ and penalizing the act of begging and its effectiveness is being based on constitutional basis.
Begging is act where people ask others for basic facilities of livelihood like food, money and clothing. In olden days Begging was not a social taboo, instead people of Higher caste Brahmins who were not economically well settled go for begging, the general public felt like giving aid to them is Dharma and treated beggars with due respect and hospitability.
Later, in colonial times most of the people lost their employment and with agricultural lands being confiscated and increasing unemployment paved a way for lot of people to the begging profession, also the disadvantaged and disabled people who has no other means to sustain their livelihood.
With governmental reforms remaining only on papers and cost of living increasing drastically, many people resorted to this job. With time begging become convenient, many lazy people came to this job and begging scams started to have its root in Indian society, where children and others were forced to gain sympathy of the general public.
On a serious phase begging become a one of the significant reasons for human trafficking and it also damaged the reputation of the country as these beggars were on a vague note considered as the indicatory for Country’s poverty and standard of living in a country. Most of these beggars choose tourist places, traffic signals and religious places, thus causing disturbance to the general public.
Street begging in our country also have a negative effect on our National Development.. The days when begging was considered a habit only for those in need or those who couldn’t make their own money are over.
The anti-beggary legal guidelines had been added to decrease those issues and the act of begging became absolutely penalized beneath this legislation. The primary concept in the back of those legal guidelines is that `Idleness is the important thing of begging`. Anti-begging regulation in India appears to be enacted with an assumption that people freely pick idleness and that idleness is a capability supply of nuisance main to criminality.
This paper would deal with the effectiveness of these laws in curbing the anti-begging laws and their approach would be discussed.
Statement of Problem:
Whether the Tamil Nadu Prevention of Begging Act, 1945 have been effective in eliminating or reforming the act of begging in the state. The extent to which “Idleness is the key to begging” is this applicable in the Indian society.
Objectives of the study
- To analyse the effectiveness of the anti-begging laws.
- To study the provisions of The Tamil Nadu Prevention of Begging Act,1945.
- To check the validity of the act.
The paper is based on non-doctrinal research, so entire data for the research is collected through primary data. The present study is based on primary and secondary data the former of which were collected by administering a well-structured interview schedule.
The respondents of the research are the general public, a questionnaire is distributed among the public and responses were collected from them. To avoid ambiguity and to geta an unbiased opinion random sampling method is used i.e., unbiased representation of the total population.
The sample is limited to the population of Tamil Nadu, to be more specific to the capital city of the state i.e., Chennai.
Responses were collected from people were collected from different age groups, ranging from 18-60 years and most of them were educated at least of Graduation.
A majority of 120 responses were collected from the above sample of the general public. Tools and techniques: The statistical tool used are average and percentage method. The data collected from magazines, journals, newspapers and all the collected data has been cooled and consolidated into master tables.
DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE OF THE RESPONDENTS:
|PARTICULARS||VARIABLES||NUMBER OF RESPONDENTS||PERCENTAGE OF RESPONDENTS|
The study contains responses from 55% of male and 45% female and of them 45.8% are between the age group of 18-25, 25% of 25-30 age group and 35% are above 40. Respondents are educated at least of graduation level i.e.,37.5% were under graduate, 21.6% are post graduate and 49% are working.
The Questionnaire is summarized under following tables:
|S.NO||PARTICULARS||VARIABLES||NUMBER OF RESPONDENTS||PERCENTAGE OF RESPONDENT|
|1.||FREQUENTLY COME ACROSS A BEGGAR.||YES||91||75.8%|
|2.||CLASS OF BEGGARS COME ACROSS FREQUENTLY||Old and disabled||47||39.1%|
|Children and pregnant women||22||18.3%|
|3.||MINIMUM FINACIAL AID ARE GIVEN TO BEGGARS||YES||35||29.1%|
|4.||CLASS OF BEGGARS THAT PUBLIC PREFER TO GIVE MONEY||Tough or helpless people.||49||40.8%|
|All who are in need.||18||15%|
|5.||AID OTHER THAN FINANCIAL AID TO BEGGARS.||YES||3||2.5%|
|6.||GENERAL OPINION OF BEGGARS||Repudiators by their family or children||29||24.1%|
|Repudiators of government or society||26||21.6%|
|Tough and helpless People||25||20.8%|
|7.||KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE TAMIL NADU PREVENTION OF BEGGING ACT, 1947.||YES||12||10%|
|8.||ACCEPTANCE TO THE FACT, “IDLENESS IS THE KEY TO BEGGARY”||YES||51||42.5%|
|9.||EMBRACING THE FACT OF COMPLETELY CRIMINALISING THE ACT OF BEGGING||YES||45||37.5%|
|10.||BELIEVE THE EXISTENCE OF BEGGING SCAMS||YES||68||56.6%|
|11.||COME ACROSS BEGGING SCAMS AND REPORTED THEM.||YES||33||27.5%|
|12.||HAVE HELPED BEGGARS REACH REHALBITATION CENTRES||YES||18||15%|
|13.||6 MONTH IMPRISONMENT WHO FORCE OTHERS INTO BEGGING IS SUFFICIENT.||YES||9||7.5%|
|14.||AGREE TO JUSTICE PUGALENDI’S IDEA OF CONSTITUTING A SEPARATE DEPARTMENT FOR REGULATING BEGGING ACTIVITES.||YES||90||75%|
|15.||ANTI- BEGGING LAWS AGAINST THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.||YES||20||16.6%|
From the responses, it can be interpreted that almost 75.8% of the people have come across beggars very often and almost 42.5% people agree that beggars are lazy and are capable of working while 57.4% of people think that they are tough are helpless people.
Occasionally, about 54.1% give minimum financial aid to beggars on humanitarian or on sympathetic grounds and some give to get rid of them and almost 85% prefer giving aid to Old or disabled or to Pregnant and Children.
Only 7.5% of the people have tried giving aid other than financial aid to these beggars. 33.3% of the sample are of the opinion that these beggars are lazy people, who beg to conveniently to avoid working but majority of the population i.e., 75% feel that beggars are helpless people who are either repudiators by their own family or repudiators of government and society.
Almost, 67.5% of the population is unaware of the Tamil Nadu Prevention of Begging Act,1947 and the 32.5% who have vague knowledge to the same are from legal profession. Thus, it can be inferred that the general public has no knowledge regarding the legislation.
Almost 51% agree with the idea of the legislation that “Idleness is the key to Beggary” and 54.1% disagree with the same and 57.5 % are against the current approach of the legislation to completely criminalize the act of begging. 56.6% people believe that begging is a scam and large people are hiding behind it but majority of them have not come across them and 72.5% who have come across the same have not reported them because they have no idea where to report and almost 79.1% of sample has neither heard nor helped any beggar reach rehalbitation centres.
It is clear from the above that 75% agree with Justice Pugalendi’s idea of constituting separate Department to regulate begging activities.
CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTIONS:
From the above study it is clearly analysed that the lack of awareness among general public regarding the anti-begging legislation and safeguards it provides to the disadvantaged is the main reason for the failure of the legislation. No wonder the Beggar Rehalbitation Centres are empty for almost 3 years.
The basic idea of the legislation that “Idleness is key to beggary” and completely criminalizing begging is also not a right approach because even though a considerable number of beggars are lazy and capable of working and some create nuisance in the name of begging, a majority of beggars are tough and helpless people who have no other means to earn their living.
Since, these people have no means to living, it is obvious that they are unaware of their basic rights and safeguards provided either by constitution or statute. They are subject to risk of harassment by the police. These people are not criminals to get them punished but these are people who need help, attention and sympathy from the public, society, government and the judiciary.
It is also necessary to punish and regulate begging scams to see no one takes undue advantage of the sympathy of the public and exploit others to begging. One of the important reasons of human trafficking is force them into begging. It is need of the hour to impose strict penal action on those who involve in begging scams, six months imprisonment is not enough for those who force others into begging.
Thus, it is high time the old legislation must be stuck down and a new anti-begging legislation must be regulated which draws clear line between the helpless, who pretend to be helpless and force others to that helpless situation. The legislation must be in a way to punish the scams not the helpless.
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