The Delhi High Court issued notices to the respondents in a Public Interest Litigation (Piyush Chhabra v. State & Ors.) filed by Delhi based lawyer, Piyush Chhabra. The petition calls for the protection of the rights of children living on the streets of Delhi.
The respondents named in the petition include the State of N.C.T of Delhi, Ministry of Women and Child Development of Government of N.C.T of Delhi, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Commissioner of Police of Delhi Police, National Human Rights Commission and Child Welfare Committee of New Delhi.
The PIL filed as a civil writ petition under Article 226/227 of the Constitution states that the petitioner has personally witnessed the exploitation of children on the streets of Delhi. The petitioner through his pleading submitted that the exploitation of children is openly visible at traffic signals and junctions of the Capital where children in the age group of 0-8 years are used in the sale of goods and begging. The petitioner argued that such children living on the streets put at risk of mental and physical dangers. The children are exposed to risks of traffic accident, adverse weather conditions and diseases like dengue, malaria and even the coronavirus. The petitioner alleged that the children are exploited and their constitutional rights are violated for the benefit of a few.
The petitioner argued that the Respondents are duty-bound to stop the exploitation of the street children. The Delhi government and the Ministry of Women and Child development are obligated to protect the children, who are incapable of their protection, through welfare schemes and measures. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights must strengthen child rights. The Child Welfare Committee is a statutory body functioning, for the care, protection, restoration and rehabilitation of children in need, under Section 30 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.
The petitioner also submitted that on several occasions when he had approached the Delhi Police, seeking their help in conducting DNA tests to ascertain the true identity of the children living on the streets, he was refused assistance.
It was stated in the plaint that the rights of the children under Article 21 of the Constitution are being violated. The decision of the Supreme Court Francis Coralie v. Union Territory of Delhi was cited in the plaint to prove that right to life under Article 21 includes the rights to shelter, nutrition, clothing and faculties for reading and writing, which are denied to the children on the street.
Further, the right to free and compulsory education for children of age 6-14 under Article 21A of the Constitution is blatantly violated in the case of these children. The petitioner stated in the plaint that the use of children for begging is a form of forced labour and it often results in human trafficking in turn violating the rights under Article 23 and 24 of the Constitution. The petitioner also placed reliance on other provisions of the Constitution and other laws to bring home the need for the protection of children on the streets.
The petitioner prayed for immediate orders for the protection of children living on the streets. Necessary orders to identify the individuals responsible for using children for begging and for rehabilitation of the children were also prayed for.
The court has issued notice to all the respondents and will be taking on the matter later.