Begging on trains, smoking likely to be decriminalised

New Delhi: The Indian Railways has proposed decriminalization of begging in the stations and in the trains, as well as smoking inside the coaches.

Reportedly, the past trend of jail and fine for begging is proposed to be completely removed, whereas intending prevention by imposing higher penalties for those caught smoking bidi/cigarettes inside the trains.

As informed by a top railway official, the railways being directed by the cabinet secretariat is planning to increase the amount of spot penalties for a number of offences. Many departments of the ministry have also proposed for the hike in the amount of penalties rather than arrests of offenders.

“This doesn’t mean that railways will allow or encourage begging at stations or in trains. Decriminalization doesn’t mean it will be legalized. Surveillance by RPF and other staff will be increased to prevent such activities,” as stated by a ministry official.

Section 144(2) of the Railways Act says that if any person begs in any railway carriage or upon a railway station shall be liable for imprisonment for a term that may extend to one year, or with fine that may extend to ₹2,000, or both.

Section 167 in The Railways Act, 1989 states that “no person in any compartment of a train shall, if objected to by any other passenger in that compartment, smoke therein.”

As per the proposed provision, if any offender pays the increased fine immediately, the authorized officer can compound the offence by charging the maximum fine amount. On payment of which the violator would be discharged with no further proceedings to be taken against him/her.

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