Friday, March 24, 2023
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Begging on trains could soon be decriminalised as railways ministry reviews redundant laws

The Railways ministry is reviewing laws that have seldom been used or are redundant to reduce the burden on the judiciary.

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New Delhi: The Ministry of Railways has moved a proposal to decriminalise begging at railway stations and trains as the provision of the Railway Act, 1989, is “seldom invoked and can often be used to harass people”, ThePrint has learnt.

According to sources in the ministry, the move is part of an exercise to review and rationalise penalties under the provisions of the Railway Act, 1989. The Railway Board has asked for suggestions on the proposal as well.

According to Section 144 of the Railway Act, if a person is found begging in a train or at a railway station, they could be imprisoned for a term that may extend to one year and/or be liable to pay a fine of up to Rs 2,000.

The Ministry of Railways has proposed to change this section to simply state that nobody will be allowed to beg in any railway carriage or on any part of the Railway’s property, without penalty.

“No person shall be permitted to beg in any railway carriage or upon any part of the Railway,” the ministry’s proposed amendment states.

Explaining the need for the change, a railway official said, “This Act is not used anyway … So it is better to do away with it since it is also an inhuman law, which criminalises and slaps fines on people who have no option but to beg. The Railways is reviewing the Act, so it was a good time to do away with this provision.”

ThePrint sent queries to Railways spokesperson for a comment on the proposal via WhatsApp, but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.

In 2018, while striking down a law that made begging a crime in the national capital, the Delhi High Court had observed that criminalising begging was the wrong approach to deal with the issue.

“The State simply cannot fail to do its duty to provide a decent life to its citizens and add insult to injury by arresting, detaining and, if necessary, imprisoning persons who beg in search for essentials of bare survival,” the court had said.

Also read: All-powerful CEO, end to department culture — How Railways restructure will reshape it

Changes to smoking, ticketless travel offences

In addition to the change, the Railways is also considering amending Section 167 of the Act which prohibits smoking in a train compartment if another passenger objects to it.

The proposed amendment intends to do away with the procedure of a case and, instead, simply levy a spot fine of upto Rs 100.

The exercise is part of the central government’s review of laws in order to remove and amend redundant or outdated laws to reduce the burden on the judiciary, sources said.

According to officials, the Railway ministry might also make travelling without a ticket punishable only with penalties and without a jail term.

Also read: Concerned over delays, PMO to now access railways portal to directly monitor projects


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  1. Decrimilisation of begging in railway carriages only entails woes to the passengers.Very often criminals in the garb of beggars rob passengers of their belongings.They loot passengers in connivance the RPF is not rare.So decrimilisation of begging in railway carriages must be done away with for smooth journey.

  2. Decrimilisation of begging in trains will create more troubles to travelling passengers.Very often criminals in the garb of beggars loot passengers, steal passenger belongings and sometimes they rob people at knife points or at gunpoint in connivance with certain sections ofRPF. So forget about humanity railway must should do away with this begging menace altogether from railway carriages.

  3. A good move and long awaiting. But government should also ensure not to allow the entry of beggars into the running coach.

  4. Begging out of compulsion is no crime as every human has the right to survive even if he has to undertake begging. Though we may come across some genuine beggars once a while in most case it is a business. In our country begging is a big industry and one would find its network every nook and corner. Bus stands and railway stations are lucrative markets for them. I have seen drunken beggars harrassing the passengers in late evening trains and it continued even after complaining to the concerned authorities. One cannot be blamed if he suspected unholy nexus between the beggar industry and some unscrupulous persons linked with the railways. If we fail to eradicate this menace by the present law does nor mean that we abolish the law itself. The best way to apply the law in its spirits and keep the records. Proper data would open the eyes of the ministry to the reality. Come to the human side, railway stations can keep a “free meal for the needy” collection point and I am sure the passengers would be generous enough to give their support. They will be happy not only for supporting a poor but for availing a hassle free journey also.

  5. Begging provides self employment. Since there will be no punishment by the railways you will find more of beggar trains in future. You can also find special thieves trains, robber trains, pickpocket trains, bhajan mandali trains. After all their occupation provides them self employment. Likewise even printing of counterfeit currency notes should also be legalised as a cottage industry as it will provide mass employment all over the country. Any case spurious medicines are also a parallel industry in India.

  6. Public is considered out of ambit for unjust laws. Whatever the proposals ministries think, they do away with that without considering the public opinion. It is accepted that people have nothing but to do begging, but why at railway premises??? So it clearly indicates you will privatise railway, if one opts for govt railways, then suffer the beggars harrassment and if you opt for private railway you will get everything clean. The BJP and Congress thought to be of centrist idea, but this move is going to far right. Absolutely unacceptable. Now the situation if it is out of ambit of judiciary, then you are making things to be of radical circumstances.

  7. A passenger is busy in something and a beggar comes and diverts his mind and force him to give him alm first

  8. A passenger is busy in something and a beggar comes and diverts his mind and force him to give him alm first

  9. May the powers that be – Bless & save us! (Railways to decriminalise begging u/s 144 of The Railways Act) As it with the act in force rampant begging occurs at the stations & within trains. The beggars harrass passengers everywhere & in all manner possible. And to mention that if any person objects to the same other passengers do turn hostile.

    The beggars are a serious public nuisance & menace. We have all faced these issues one time or other. Their high pitched singing at odd hours, “by the minute” cleaning/sweeping of the coach floors & harrassing for money. So much even waking up sleeping passengers too! They sweep the floors, gather the rubbish collected & dump it at the washroom/vestibule area. Their techniques are really expansive. They harrass passengers for food & its very upsetting when they do this purposely when someone is eating. All this is done with the collusion of the railway authorities at the station & onboard trains. Hence they have no fear of the public at all.

    Now with the Act being made redundant, I ponder what’s its going to be travelling like with the railways going forward. The authorities has just made this extreme nuisance legal!



    • This can not be eliminated, because our laws implementation is very difficult due huge unemployment and lack of education also and due to corona crisis most of people became unemployed and in case of transgenders this unemployment exists and our society feels in a different way!

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