Boy sent to home for adult beggars

NEW DELHI: Caught begging in Connaught Place in August, a 12-year-old boy was sent to the beggars' home for adults at Lampur where he has been languishing since then. 

Even as the boy has spent over five months in the Lampur home, the social welfare department of Delhi government, which is handling the case since August, hasn't moved the beggars' court at Kingsway Camp for a review of itsearlier order. The court had sentenced him to a certified institution of beggars under Delhi government. 

Going by the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection) Act 2000, the child beggar should have been produced before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), comprising a bench of magistrates, which can ask the government to put the child in a certified children's home. Anyone, including a beggar, under 18 years, is a "juvenile" or "child". 

Child rights activist Bharti Ali from NGO Haq has now written a letter to Nathu Singh, chairperson of CWC, Sewa Kutir at Kingsway Camp. A letter has also been sent to Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights. 

According to the letter, the police conducted a raid in Connaught Place on August 4 and apprehended five beggars. A daily diary number — 30 BD — was registered at CP police station and case number 1582/09 to 1586/09 were registered against all of them under section 4 (i) Bombay Beggary Prevention Act 1959. The MLC prepared at RML Hospital for all the five stated that the boy in question was 12 years old. ''Dr Durgesh of Ram Manohar Hospital examined the boy and the age given in the official record is 12 years. But it is pertinent to share that no age verification (ossification test) had been done,'' the letter adds. 

On the same day, the child was produced in the beggars' court, which charged and convicted him along with others under section 5 (5) of the Bombay Beggary Prevention Act 1959 and sentenced him to a certified institution for beggars under Delhi government. 
Haq, however, contends that the case falls under JJ Act and accordingly it should be handled by the CWC. According to Bharti Ali, the age documents produced by the police before the court were misleading — the boy's age was shown to be 22 years. He also alleged that the boy was not physically produced before the court. 

Admitting that he had received a letter from Haq, CWC chairperson Nathu Singh said he had made enquiries about the boy and found the claims of the letter true. According to sources in the social welfare department, the beggar home had itself informed the department about the presence of the minor boy. 

The secretary, social welfare, Manoj Parida said he had taken charge only two months ago. ''I am shocked. I have reviewed the matter. The officers concerned have been pulled up and we will approach the beggars' court on Tuesday for a review of its order to get the child out. By 5.00 pm on Tuesday, it will be my endeavour to produce the child before the CWC,'' Parida said.