New Delhi: Two youths, sentenced to one year detention for begging in buses here, have been ordered by the Delhi High Court to be tried again on the ground of denial of legal aid to them during their first trial.
Justice P K Bhasin ordered their fresh trial saying the denial of legal aid was a "fatal constitutional infirmity" which "vitiated" their trial proceedings.
The high court set aside the youths` conviction under the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, also noting that the proceedings against them were wrapped in one day by a magisterial court after recording their confession in two separate cases.
The two youths had allegedly confessed they were professional beggars and seeking alms by singing and playing musical instruments in buses here.
"It is clear from both these identical orders of special magistrate that both the petitioners have been convicted without even providing them any legal aid which they were entitled to get at the state expense. They were not even given any opportunity to avail the benefit of bail given to them and straightaway their detention in a certified institution for a period of one year was ordered," the court said.
"In the two judgements of the Supreme Court referred to... it was held that right of an accused in a criminal case, where upon conviction he can be ordered to be imprisoned, to be represented by a lawyer at the state cost when the accused cannot afford that facility is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India...," it said.
Reviving the bail orders, it asked the special magistrate to start fresh trial of Shani, 20 and Mausham, 22, both of Rohini here, from November 9 by providing them lawyers of their choice at state expenses if they fail to hire them.
Both were allegedly arrested on July 16 after being found begging in a DTC bus at Rafi Marg near Parliament here.