SINDH ANTI-BEGGARY ACT, 2021
WHEREAS it is expedient to provide for care, rehabilitation and reintegration of beggars in the province of the Sindh to eliminate beggary in the society and for the matters connected therewith or incidental thereof.
It is hereby enacted by the Provincial Assembly of Sindh as follows
2. Definitions: (1) In this Act, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context:
a. “Government” means the Government of Sindh
b. “Prescribed” means prescribed by rules;
c. “Public Place” includes any road, public park, garden, railway station, markets, bus stands, adda, airports, ground or public transport;
d. “Rules” means the rules made under this Act;
e. “Special Magistrate” means a Magistrate especially empowered by Government to act under the provision of this Act;
f. “Beggary” means:
g. Organized Crime – practice of begging with the criminal intent to defraud the donor, carried out in an organized fashion, and handled as a business. The organizers have criminal intent to maximize profit for themselves by forcing people, often of disadvantaged social groups, to beg. These disadvantaged groups include but are not limited to those who are mentally and physically handicapped, women, third gender, children, and the elderly, voluntarily and involuntarily
h. “Rehabilitation Home” means an institution under Section 4 of this Act;
i. “Child Protection Centre” means a Shelter for short and long term stay and protection of children as explained at Section 6 of this Act;
j. “Child” means any person under the age of eighteen years
k. “Children Act” means Sindh Child Protection Authority Act 2011
l. “Court” means any court exercising criminal jurisdiction in the area in which this Act is in force;
m. “DNA Test” means a laboratory test for identifying biological relationship between two persons
(3) After completion of fact finding and data recording, children below 18 are taken to the child Protection Shelter and adults to the Adult Rehabilitation Homes where they are placed initially for a period of three months.
(4) The police shall immediately also proceed against any person , handler, mafia or guardian who caused any child or adult to beg or to accept alms or abets to beg or accept alms. The Police shall arrest such individuals / handlers / parents and shall produce them before the court for legal proceeding.
(5) After three months, children may be returned to parents / guardians and adults released – with written assurances for not returning to streets or begging or indulging in any crime. (6) Sindh Child Protection Authority will seek Magistrate’s permission if the stay of the child is to be extended beyond 3 months. (7) The Sindh Social Welfare Department will seek Magistrate’s permission if the stay of the adult is to be extended beyond 3 months.
(8) In case of child if there is any doubt, court may order for DNA test of parents and child. If the parenthood the child is not confirmed, the child will continue to be with Child Protection Authority in Child Shelter, till child’s parents / guardians are found.
(a) Provide Shelter to the beggars / destitute; and
(b) Provide health care, counselling, education and skill development facilities to the beggars / destitute.
(c) arrange such instructions of the beggars as may rehabilitate them in useful trades and make them self-supporting.
(d) Data collection and updated records must be maintained at the Rehabilitation Homes. Accurate record and status of each individual, with full details of date of arrival, departure, services provided, and Magistrate’s approval must be maintained.
(e) Perform any other functions as assigned to it by Government.
(a) Provide Shelter to the children (under 18) picked up from streets, found begging, lost, destitute or in need of protection, and
(b) Provide health care, counselling, education and skill development and reformation services to the children.
(c) arrange such instructions so that children may be rehabilitated back with their families, schools and communities and return to normal routine of life.
(d) Data collection and updated records must be maintained at the Child Protection Centre. Accurate record and status of each child, with full details of date of arrival, departure, services provided, and Magistrate’s approval must be maintained.
(e) Perform any other functions as assigned to it by Government.
The detention of adult / children is reviewed every 3 months by Child Protection Authority / Social Welfare Department. Stay may be extended by three months at a time if so permitted by the Magistrate.
(2) Children may be released and returned to parents / guardians with written assurances to the satisfaction of the court for not returning to begging or to streets.
(2)whoever having the custody, charge or care of a child, connives at or encourages the employment or the causing a child to solicit or receive alms shall be punished with presentment for a term which may extend to three years but which shall not be less than one year.
Provided that, after the expiry of 3 months, the court may release any such person to any person whom the court considers suitable, executes a bond with or without sureties as court may require, making him/herself responsible for the housing and maintenance of such inmate and for preventing him/her from begging or being used for the purpose of begging.
Object and Reasons
Begging is not just related to poverty but also to how a state manages its funds and cares for its people. That we take no measures to limit our burgeoning population or to ensure old-age benefits or social security for all citizens, further adds to the phenomenon.
Pakistan has an anti-vagrancy act since 1958, that prohibits soliciting for alms in a public place or exhibiting any wounds or deformity for the purpose of soliciting alms. This law largely remained ineffective because of the disinterest of state machinery and the absence of supporting shelters and processes. Thus, rather than rushing into new laws, we need to review this subject and consider humane ways to rehabilitate the beggars and apprehend their handlers.
Any anti-beggary drive must begin only once the following mechanisms have been put in place: (a) that the police is bound to remove every individual found begging regardless of age, gender or disability; (b) that such individuals be taken to the police station (for a few hours) for gathering information about handlers, fact finding, records and biometrics; (c) children below 18 are taken to the child protection centres and adults to the adult rehabilitation centres where they are placed initially for a period of three months; (d) police simultaneously begins apprehending handlers and initiates criminal proceedings against them; (e) after three months, children may be returned to parents and adults released, with written assurances for not returning to streets.
A beggary elimination programme cannot be effective without trained staff and sufficient rehabilitation centers for adults and children. The state must provide food, shelter, clothes, healthcare, education, counselling and skill development in these welfare homes/centers. The welfare homes must aim to reform its residents, while the police must focus on eliminating ‘behind-the-scene’ gangs, peddlers and handlers. Data collection and records to be maintained at the welfare Centers & shelters to track the habitual ones and deal with them under the criminal laws.
The three-month initial stay may be extended if the person would be unsafe outside the shelter or may resume begging after release. Needless to say that the Social Welfare Department must remain an active partner throughout this programme.
Begging is a result of neglect — both by the state and society. It will continue as long as only less than three million people file their tax returns, only 10% workers are registered with the EOBI and only 5% are included in the Social Security programmes. This will also continue to happen if we define the monthly minimum wage at a measly level of Rs17,500 and refuse to pay even that to most workers. The state and the citizens can join hands in remedying these faults and developing effective and humane processes to manage beggary.
Bill proposed by Rabia A Nizami and Naeem Sadiq.