Delhi HC calls for publicising helpline 1098 to combat child begging

- July 9, 2024
| By : Patriot Bureau |

The court closed the PIL after taking on record the stand of the authorities and asked the Delhi government to file an affidavit showing compliance after eight weeks

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The Delhi High Court instructed authorities on Tuesday to widely publicize the child helpline number 1098 for addressing instances of child begging in the national capital.

Acting Chief Justice Manmohan, leading a bench handling a PIL concerning child begging, was informed by the Delhi government that the helpline allows anyone to report such cases, triggering a process to counsel and either reunite the child with their family or place them in a child care institution.

After accepting the government’s assurances, the court closed the PIL and directed the Delhi government to submit an affidavit confirming compliance within eight weeks.

“The writ petition is disposed of…Respondents are directed to ensure publicity is given to the child helpline number 1098,” ordered the bench, also comprising Justice Tushar Rao Gedela.

Standing counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi assured the court that mechanisms are in place for prompt responses to child begging incidents. Efforts are also underway to identify and enroll out-of-school children into educational programs.

The Delhi government’s status report highlighted the role of its Department of Women and Child Development in combating child begging through District Child Protection Units. These units aim to identify and rehabilitate vulnerable children, with awareness campaigns conducted in collaboration with agencies like Aaganwadi, police, and NGOs.

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Moreover, a “Standard Operating Procedure for Care and Protection of Children in Street Situations”, framed by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, guides efforts to provide education and vocational training to rescued children, along with counselling for their emotional well-being during rehabilitation.

The PIL, filed by petitioner Ajay Gautam in 2021 seeking eradication of child begging, had prompted the high court to issue notices to the Centre, Delhi government, and the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights. Gautam’s plea underscored the failure of authorities to address the widespread issue of child begging and exploitation in the city. (With inputs from PTI)