To re-integrate the increasing number of drug addicts into society, the Punjab and Haryana high court wants them provided with proper medical treatment and rehabilitation.
It has observed that special courts with jurisdiction over cases registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act will have to identify addicts and drug-using offenders other than smugglers and peddlers so that states can be directed to provide them with treatment. As alternative to prisons, the court wants separate youth-detention facilities in jails and probation homes.
A bench led by justice Paramjeet Singh issued the directions while dismissing the bail petition of drug addict Gurjit Singh, from whom the Kotkapura police in Faridkot district had seized 15 packets of banned tablets.
The bench directed the Punjab government to send the petitioner to a rehabilitation centre and identify more addicts such as him for the making of their treatment and rehabilitation arrangements.
"The courts can make extensive use of comprehensive supervision, drug testing, treatment services; and may seek reports about the reformation of addicts and take up cases for immediate sanctions against persistent defaulters and incentives to the ones who are on the path of reform," justice Paramjeet Singh observed.
In a detailed judgment, the court gave the Punjab government two months to file an affidavit about the number of drug de-addiction centres working effectively, the facilities at these homes, and whether or not rules existed for the raising of similar facilities and treatment of drug addicts.
The government will have to specify whether or not the rules to permit, control and regulate the possession of synthetic or natural drugs have been framed under the NDPS Act to apply to chemists, wholesalers and manufacturers.
"It is said that in Punjab, two things open early-liquor outlets and chemist's shops," the bench observed, "A small village in Punjab may not have a school but it has a drugstore.
"The surveys by various agencies suggest that after Nagaland, Punjab is second in the country in drug abuse; and 70% of the state's young people in the age group of 19 to 24 are exposed to drugs."
"The director general of prisons of Punjab gave a statement in newspapers that 30% of all people in jail had been arrested under the NDPS Act," the judge added, "and there's a continuous flow of drugs into the jail, which is impossible for him to control.
If it is true, it is a very serious matter." The high court has set the next hearing on the matter is on October 8.