The outsider versus locals debate continues to rage in some form or the other. Close on the heels of controversial comments from Raj Thackeray and Delhi Lt Governor Tejender Khanna, the Delhi High Court was the scene of such remarks on Monday during a hearing on a PIL seeking to rid the city of beggars.
VP Chaudhury, senior advocate appointed as amicus curiae (to assist the court on an issue), attributed Delhi’s inability to control the influx of population as one of the reason for failure to effectively deal with the menace.
“It is estimated that around five lakh people are added to Delhi’s exploding population every year from outside. In my view there must be some control. Each person who wishes to settle in Delhi should have a reasonable explanation to offer. Some basic qualification should be set,” Chaudhury told a Bench of justices Vikramjit Sen and PK Bhasin.
He said the problem was not just confined to Delhi but also other metropolis. Chaudhary said after an interaction with beggars at various detention homes, it was found that more than 95 per cent of them had come from outside and urgent steps were needed to send them back to their respective states.
Mobile courts coming
The court accepted Chaudhury’s suggestion for setting up of mobile courts for speedy disposal of cases with a special magistrate as a presiding officer. This was to help in rounding up persons found begging on the spot and order their detention. He requested for at least four mobile courts — two of them to work between 7 am and 2 pm and other two between 2 pm and 9 pm
“It may be necessary to create four additional posts of mobile magistrates and they can be drawn from retired government servants. They may be provided with necessary staff,” said the Bench. Justice Sen asked government counsel Mukta Gupta to obtain instructions in this regard before proceeding further after she said the government was in favour of empowering the already existing magistrates.
Gupta told the court the government had decided to introduce biometric identification system for all those caught begging. This is a foolproof process for identifying habitual beggars who can then be rehabilitated. At present, almost 50 per cent beggars caught escape for want of evidence. The biometric database will be used to convict those caught begging repeatedly.