The NGO also has requested that while in the middle of an academic year, children of daily wage workers should be admitted to school to ensure that they are not forced to participate in child labour or begging. On Wednesday, the Karnataka High Court ordered the state government and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to come up with a system in the city to identify homeless and destitute children. While hearing a petition seeking the prohibition of children from selling goods at traffic junctions in Bengaluru, the Court followed this route. The Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Vishwajith Shetty observed, when passing the said direction, “It is a serious problem when children are forced to beg or sell items, they are deprived of their guaranteed fundamental right under Article 21A. If they are forced to do so by their circumstances, it is a breach of their guaranteed fundamental right under Article 21.”
The Bench has clearly clarified that the identification scheme would have to be sent to the Court before the start of the exercise. The Court added that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating in the area could always be approached by BBMP to assist in collecting data on children involved in beggar/selling products at traffic junctions. It was further mentioned that the Bench would issue directions for the enforcement of the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, specifically Chapter VI of the Act, following the submission of the scheme. In its order, the Court also noted that in the light of Section 2(d) of the Act, which determines children in need of care and security, the issue would have to be considered. In addition, the Court asked the State what steps it would take after a structure had been placed in place.These points were made by the Court in a plea put forward by the Letzkit Foundation, a non-governmental group, seeking guidelines to discourage young children from being deployed to sell goods at city traffic junctions. Noting that the law bans beggars and provides for criminal proceedings against those who use children for beggars, the petitioner urged the State and its authorities to discourage the activity from taking place. The petitioner also brought to the Court's notice that even though the city was largely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, young children were discovered selling different goods at many traffic junctions.
The NGO has also prayed that even in the middle of an academic year, children of daily wage workers should be admitted to school to ensure that they are not forced to participate in child labour or begging. Via Advocate Puthige Ramesh, the plea was lodged. On 30 November, the matter will be heard next.