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Draft bill seeks to decriminalise beggary

The government has drafted a bill that seeks to decriminalise beggary and offer a life of dignity to the beggars, homeless and others who live in poverty or abandonment.

Begging is currently a crime under the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959. Under the Act, a person found begging can be sent to a shelter home or even jail without trial. The draft ‘The persons in destitution (protection, care and rehabilitation) Bill 2015’ looks at the issue as a social menace.

In the bill, ‘destitution’ refers to a state of poverty or abandonment, arising from economic or social deprivation and ‘persons in destitution’ include the homeless, beggars, people with physical and mental disabilities, the old, infirm and others who are in a state of poverty or abandonment.

According to the bill, concerned state governments will constitute Outreach and Mobilisation Units in districts and conduct surveys for the purpose of mapping areas and identifying persons in destitution, create awareness among them about the Act and provide them assistance in procuring documents required to avail the benefits of any such scheme or legislation. Also, the state governments will establish rehabilitation centres for the care, protection and vocational or skill development training for such people.
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