The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act) is the primary law for children in the country. As per Section 2 (14) (ii) of the JJ Act,2015, a child who is found working in contravention of labour laws for the time being in force or is found begging, or living on the street is included as a “child in need of care and protection”, among others. As per Section 76 of JJ Act, whoever employs or uses any child for the purpose of begging or causes any child to beg shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine of one lakh rupees.The Act provides a security net of service delivery structures along with measures for institutional and non-institutional care, to ensure comprehensive well being of children in distress situations. Primary responsibility of execution of the Act rests with the States/UTs.
The Ministry implements a centrally sponsored scheme i.e. Child Protection Services (CPS) under the umbrella Integrated Child Development Services scheme, for supporting the children in difficult circumstances including child beggars and destitute children. Under the scheme, institutional care is provided through Child Care Institutions (CCIs), as a rehabilitative measure. The programmes and activities in CCIs inter-alia include age-appropriate education, access to vocational training, recreation, health care, counseling etc. The scheme supports 24×7 emergency outreach/ helpline service for children in distress conditions. The service is accessible through a dedicated toll free number, 1098 from anywhere in India.
The scheme inter-alia provided financial assistance for setting up of CCIs to the States/UTs either by themselves or in association with voluntary organisations. The details of fund released to States/UTs under CPS during last five years are Annexed.
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, has undertaken a pilot project for Comprehensive Rehabilitation of Persons engaged in the act of begging in ten (10) cities; namely Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Ahmadabad, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Lucknow, Patna, Nagpur and Indore with the objective of identification, rehabilitation, counseling, skill development of beggars. It includes education of children engaged in begging/children of persons engaged in the begging.
This information was given by the Union Minister of Women and Child Development, Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, in a written reply in the Lok Sabha today.