Staff Reporter

MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Monday directed the police to strictly implement the Tamil Nadu Prevention of Begging Act, 1941.

Disposing of a public interest litigation petition, a Division Bench comprising Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice K. Veeraraghavan said that the Director General of Police could issue appropriate instruction in this regard to all the district heads under his control.

The Judges said that the Madurai Police Commissioner, in his counter affidavit, had "virtually admitted" the prevalence of beggars. But, the officer had claimed that there were some impediments in arresting the offenders and lodging them in special homes or workhouses since the Government was yet to notify such habitats.

On the other hand, the petitioner, D. Muruganantham, a practising advocate here, placed sufficient documents to show that a Government care camp for beggars was established at Melapakkam near Chennai as early as March 1, 1954. After being controlled by the Police Department until 1973, it was now functioning under the Social Welfare Department.

Appreciating the legwork done by the petitioner in the interest of the public at large, the Bench directed the State Government to pay him Rs.10,000 by way of costs.

Further, the Judges pointed out that the Act does not contemplate establishment of many special homes and that the existence of even a single home was sufficient to implement its provisions.

In his affidavit, the petitioner said the practice of giving alms to `sanyasis' had lost its significance over the yeas and, of late, begging had become an easy way of making money.