Updated: Aug 23, 2020
By- Swarnav Bhuyan(4th Year) & Simran Kaur Bhatia(3rd Year) Law Students at
Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad
Childhood is considered as the most important period for the development of an individual as socialization and shaping of the child takes place during the course of childhood. However, as the years are advancing, people have become greedy and have started indulging in crimes. In due course, many children’s lives have been spoilt. Here, we intend on focusing on the amputation or maiming of children for the purposes of begging. The act of imputing or maiming is also in contravention to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Employment of a child for begging is a punishable offense under Section-76 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. The punishment for begging is prescribed as imprisonment for a term which may extend to 5 years or a fine which may extend to 5 Lakhs or both. Section-76 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 brings to light the offence of amputation or maiming of a child for begging. The prescribed punishment for the same is rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than 7 years which may extend to 10 years or a fine which may extend up to 7 Lakhs. The offenders under Section-76 can also be punished for not paying the child wages, not paying the child wages in current currency, or making an unauthorized deduction from the wages paid to the child. Despite this stringent legislation that prescribes punishment, the offence of amputation or maiming of a child for begging is still very prevalent in India and is also present at a global level. Amputation or maiming of a child is a cruel act that violates the right to life guaranteed under Article-21 of our Indian Constitution. Before delving into the article, it is essential to understand the difference between Amputation and Maiming.
a) Maiming: It is to wound or injure in such a way that a part of the body is permanently damaged.
b) Amputation: It is the act of surgically cutting off a limb.
Innocent children are often subject to these blood-curdling acts causing great violence to them and in turn drastically affecting their lives.
CURRENT SCENARIO IN INDIA
India has a vast population that contains a large number of children. Several news reports have been circulated about the whole circle of amputation or maiming of children for the purpose of begging. In 2006 three doctors were caught on camera wherein they agreed to amputate the limbs of a beggar for 10,000 rupees in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. The doctors were caught explaining the process of amputation. Amputation or maiming is done mainly to gain sympathy and empathy for people so that they dole out money to the beggars. Usually, people on seeing a disabled child, tend to give alms to the child out of sympathy and empathy. The money collected by the child is handed over to his/her gang leader. The leader of the gang will, in turn, pay a certain commission to the child and will siphon of the rest of the amount collected, ensuring that he earns money along with profit. In the movie Slumdog Millionaire, a clear picture of the ‘Beggar Mafia’ is given where the Mafia controls the children and extracts money for its illegal purposes. Every year around 44,000 children fall under the clutches of the mafia and hundreds of them are amputated or maimed for this very purpose. The most shocking discovery of the beggar mafia was in the ‘arms for alms’ scandal which revealed how doctors had contracts with the beggar mafia according to which they amputated or maimed healthy limbs and parts of people and children. Most of the victims are within the age group of 2 to 8 years. In Delhi, a story that was in the news in 2009 was of Priya, a girl who was lost. She was turned into a beggar by the mafia. Her mother recognized her one day begging in front of a temple and managed to take her back home.
Children are taught specific ways of begging and dropped in places where there is scope for receiving alms. Dharavi, Mumbai is the largest slum in the world, and children from there are used for begging by the mafia, and several children are subjected to amputation or maiming. The children eat food in temples and masjids and usually sleep in public places such as a bus stand or a footpath. The legislation called the “The Bombay Beggary Prevention Act of 1959” was enacted in Bombay which made begging illegal. A study shows that the law has not been effective in curbing the practice.
As quoted by Mahatma Gandhi “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”, is to be enforced. The act of amputating or maiming a child cannot seek justice by committing the same on the offender. The punishment for the commission of this offence is to be increased and must stand as a deterrent to the other offenders. The cruel act of amputating or maiming a child is to be punished very severely. amputating or maiming might be a means of livelihood for these gang leaders but it devastates a child’s life. First, the child undergoes severe physical trauma as most of the doctors who amputate the limbs of children aren’t professional doctors which in turn exposes the child to great health risks which may even cause death. Second, the child undergoes severe psychological and emotional trauma which makes the child mentally unsound or leaves the child with severe depression. Many children have committed suicide due to the after-effects of amputating or maiming. The act in itself is the purest form of violence. A temporary business for the mafia actually damages the entire life of a child. A child who was once healthy is left permanently disabled. It is sad that most of these cases do not even reach court and hence go unnoticed. It is now in the hands of the public to spread awareness about this inhuman crime committed against children and to put an end to it.
The following suggestions have been put forward by us in respect to the current scenario of amputation or maiming of children for the purpose of begging-
Increasing the punishment for amputation or maiming of a child for the purpose of begging.
The police should indulge in activities that expose such mafia and a special police force should be established and deployed in every city to do the same.
The Government should open rehabilitation and shelter homes for the children and even adults who are presently indulged in begging.
Surprise checks should be made in slum areas where the chances of the existence of beggar mafias are higher.
The media should publish more articles on such issues frequently so as to bring this issue to the notice of the common people and the Government.
Free education should be provided for such children and adequate employment opportunities must be made for these children.
(Disclaimer- The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Child Rights Centre.)