Don’t link drive against begging to order on survey of street children: HC

Court has ordered a survey of children selling articles at traffic junctions and others locations on streets

The High Court of Karnataka on Thursday made it clear that the drive taken up by government authorities in Bengaluru under the Karnataka Prohibition of Beggary (KPB) Act, 1975, is not linked to its orders on PIL petitions, through which the court had ordered for conduct of survey of children selling articles at traffic junctions and others locations on streets.

Those in charge of the drive taken up under the KPB Act should not link it with the process of collection of data of street children taken up by the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority (KSLSA) in coordination with the city police, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, NGOs, and others, the court said.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum passed order during the hearing of a petition filed by Letzkit Foundation, Bengaluru, on the need for providing education to children engaged in selling flowers and other articles on streets.

Senior officers of the city police, BBMP, representatives of NGOs were present either physically or through videoconference on the direction of the court to coordinate with the KSLSA.

Meanwhile, the Bench asked the KSLSA to coordinate with Shekhar Seshadri and team of SAMVAD (Support, Advocacy & Mental health interventions for children in Vulnerable circumstances And Distress), a national initiative and integrated resource for child protection, mental health and psychosocial care, of the NIMHANS, Bengaluru.

The Bench also made it clear that at the initial stage only the data would be collected and there was no need for any authority to take any further action as it would depend on the analysis of the collected data.

However, the Bench said all actions as per the law can be initiated if any serious case like child trafficking is noticed during the data collection process while pointing out that the object of data collection was to protect of rights of children and give them education, and not penalising or causing harm to them.

While directing the members of special juvenile police unit and the city police to help survey team in the background in civil dress, the Bench said the team should ensure that parents or guardians of children should are sensitised to clear their apprehension on well-being of their children.

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