Delhi HC Directs Publicizing Helpline Number 1098 to Address Child Begging

Child Begging

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the authorities to publicize the child helpline number 1098 to address instances of child begging in the national capital.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Tushar Rao Gedela, while addressing a PIL concerning child begging, was informed by the Delhi government that incidents of child begging can be reported via the helpline. A mechanism has been established to counsel and either reunite the child with their family or place them in a child care institution.

The court closed the PIL after noting the authorities’ position and instructed the Delhi government to file an affidavit demonstrating compliance within eight weeks. “The writ petition is disposed of… Respondents are directed to ensure publicity is given to the child helpline number 1098,” the bench ordered.

Represented by standing counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi, the Delhi government assured the court that a mechanism is in place to ensure a timely response to incidents of child begging. The government also indicated that efforts are being made to identify out-of-school children and ensure their admission to schools.

The government, represented by lawyer Arun Panwar, stated that the Delhi Police act upon any information received regarding the violation of children’s rights. According to its status report, the Delhi government’s Department of Women and Child Development plays a key role in combating child begging through its ‘District Child Protection Units,’ which are responsible for identifying and rehabilitating vulnerable children involved in begging.

The report also mentioned that comprehensive awareness programs are conducted in collaboration with field agencies like Anganwadi, police, and NGOs to educate communities about the risks and consequences of child begging and to encourage reporting. A “Standard Operating Procedure for Care and Protection of Children in Street Situations,” as established by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, is already in place. Efforts are made to provide rescued children with access to education and vocational training.

The report further indicated that counseling services are offered to support the emotional and psychological well-being of these children during their rehabilitation and integration into mainstream society.

Petitioner Ajay Gautam had filed the PIL in 2021 seeking the eradication of child begging. The high court had previously issued notices to the Centre, Delhi government, and the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) regarding the plea. Gautam sought directions for the rehabilitation of children involved in begging and for the identification and arrest of those exploiting young children for begging and criminal activities.

In his plea, Gautam alleged that despite the pervasive presence of beggars across the city, the authorities had failed to take effective steps to address the issue.

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