After writing around 90 posts on love and the person I love, I realised that I need to take a break for a day (because only that much I can afford to miss her and not more than that) and express my usual me..me the lawyer..but it would certainly be boring for many people who would not like to read technical topics with citations and all. So I decided to take up an issue whcih has a deep social impact with a blend of legal approach !!
The issue of begging is really a very sensitive issue I feel, It is related to someone’s dignity. Imagine when someone folds in depair and stretch their ams for some money, some food, to survive and to sustain their family, how they might be feeling?? How a father or a mother can face the reality that their children are dying of hunger ?? How the parents handle their shame ?? I believe that often such helplessness led to suicides, crimes, and so on ?? I think we should understand the issue of poverty with little more sensitivity instead of reading the economic data and definitions…
Beggars are commonly found in India. The core areas of activities are the places of pilgrimage and worship. They wander from street to street, from one locality to another and beg for food and money. They accept with grace whatever is given to them. But, sometimes they pursue people so consistently that people get tired of them. Some people give money or food to beggars in order to get rid of them and not due to pity. Some beggars are so young and strong they do not justify charity at all. However, I heard someone saying that “There are few justifiable cases of begging.” How can begging be justified ????
An interesting aspect…Do you know that begging is an offence..its a cerime in India ?? Yes, and not only begging but also providing to the beggars is a crime. So on other hand if you are giving money to the beggar then it is a crime too. And this is as per our Indian Laws.
What could be the logic?
There are very few who actually beg for a cause like their disability, old-age or real urgent needs. Begging has become a profession and those who beg have a whole family that are doing the same begging. Later they go to extend their family by marrying giving birth to children and then to have more to beg. You entertaining one beggar, means you let him/her make their family give birth to a few more and get them begging on roads or temples too. (This is so harsh a logic given by a contemporary legal scholar from India..not takinh her name)
One more dimension to it is, anti-social elements. When you provide to a young beggar because of ease of getting provided they get into drugs then their wants increase then they start pick-pocketing then robbing and then even killing at a stage. It’s not that these elements are only born here but, this is one source. I believe this, to an extent is correct…but how to it is for the person giving money to the beggar is supposed to be liable ??Is being empathetic is punishable in India ??
The above link is the case of Ram Lakhan v State 137 (2007) DLT 173 on begging is a lesson in stupid laws and sensitive adjudication. Justice Badar Durrez Ahmad of the Delhi High Court deserves commendation. The discussion on the (lack of) differences between duress and necessity is fascinating:
“.. while in the case of exploitation and compulsion by the ring leaders of a ‘begging racket’, the “beggar” who begs under compulsion of fear for bodily harm from them would have the defense of duress, where the “beggar” takes to begging compelled by poverty and hunger, he would be entitled to invoke the defense of necessity. The common feature of both defenses being the element of involuntariness or, shall I say, lack of legitimate choices. It is the absence of legal alternatives that provides the defense of duress or necessity. This is aptly described by Dickson J giving the majority opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada in Perka v. The Queen  2 SCR 232 in the following manner:
Given that the accused had to act, could he nevertheless realistically have acted to avoid the peril or present the harm, without breaking the law? Was there a legal way out? I think this is what Bracton means when he lists “necessity” as a defense, providing the wrongful act was not “avoidable”. The question to be asked is whether the agent had any real choice: could he have done otherwise? If there is a reasonable legal alternative to disobeying the law, then the decision to disobey becomes a voluntary one, impelled by some consideration beyond the dictates of “necessity” and human instincts.”
Isaiah Berlin’s claim that negative liberty and positive liberty are distinct concepts, whereas people like Joseph Raz, Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum insisting that true liberty must include positive liberty (i.e. not merely the absence of duress/coercion, but the ability to do things, or in Raz’s words, having ‘an adequate range of valuable options’).
The solution is yet to be identified..