Begging and Smoking might be Decriminalized Soon

The Indian Railways is preparing to decriminalize acts including begging and smoking on stations as well as trains soon.

As per the new proposal, the fine & jail terms for begging in train coaches and on stations will not be done away. However, higher penalties will be imposed on smoking offenses.

“No person shall be permitted to begin any railway carriage or upon any part of the Railway,” the ministry’s proposed amendment states.

While talking about the need for the amendment, a railway official was quoted to be saying Explaining the need for the change, a railway official said, “This Act is not used anyway … So it is better to do away with it since it is also an inhuman law, which criminalizes and slaps fines on people who have no option but to beg. The Railways is reviewing the Act, so it was a good time to do away with this provision.”

In 2018, while striking down a law that made begging a crime in the national capital, the Delhi High Court had observed that criminalizing begging was the wrong approach to deal with the issue.

A 2018 court ruling from the Delhi High Court ruled out a law that mentioned begging as a crime. The ruling stated, “The State simply cannot fail to do its duty to provide a decent life to its citizens and add insult to injury by arresting, detaining and, if necessary, imprisoning persons who beg in search for essentials of bare survival.”