Whitewashing Delhi by Banishing Beggars

Delhi to banish beggars ahead of Commonwealth Games

Tues Sept 1 — New Delhi: The Indian capital will be made beggar free in the run up to next year’s Commonwealth Games, the authorities said on Tuesday while launching two mobile courts to prosecute beggars.

To begin with, citizens who spot beggars can reach the mobile courts through a control room. The courts will reach the spot and take away the beggars, Delhi Social Welfare Minister Mangat Ram Singhal said in New Delhi.

The minister launched the mobile courts to fast track cases against beggars, whose population in Delhi is estimated at over 100,000. Ten more mobile courts will be introduced soon.

Singhal told reporters, “To make the national capital beggar free, we are taking many initiatives. One of them is the launch of the mobile courts. [Source]

Which brings to mind the situation in the US where panhandling is a form of freedom of expression (and therefore protected by the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution.) State constitutions also guarantee freedom of expression. Here’s a recent case from Oregon.

Judge rules panhandling law is unconstitutional

March 27, 2009

A Medford panhandling ordinance that prohibits solicitation of money at intersections and other locations is unconstitutional, a Jackson County judge has ruled.

Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Mejia’s four-page order, issued March 19, found Medford’s ordinance specifically violated Article 1, Section 8, of the Oregon Constitution, which prohibits passing any law restricting freedom of speech.

“I think it’s important for government officials to understand that they cannot prohibit expression because they find it offensive,” said David Fidanque, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. One of the ACLU’s members filed the suit. [ Link ]

It would have been nice if India had a constitutional guarantee to the freedom of expression.

Author: Atanu Dey


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