Taking a serious view of the Punjab government coming out of slumber now after the court’s repeated directions for the past five years for the setting up of drug de-addiction centres across the state, the Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday called for a list of all licensed de-addiction centres (government as well as private) along with the facilities being provided to drug addicts.
Justice Rajive Bhalla said, “The court had been passing directions for the past five years. Now you have suddenly woken up because of political compulsions and have got psychiatrists as well as doctors. If you had started working for the past five years, you could have saved a number of families.”
Justice Bhalla said he had passed detailed directions to the Punjab government authorities on June 30, 2009, for the setting up of de-addiction centres and appointment of doctors and psychiatrists. “I am pained. What about those people who lost their lives in the past five years because of drugs?” questioned justice Bhalla.
The court also directed all licensed de-addiction centres to file affidavits whether they have got adequate staff and how many patients they treat on a monthly basis. Making it clear that the issue of rehabilitation of drug addicts needed to be taken seriously, justice Bhalla said if the de-addiction centres were not provided required staff and facilities, the secretary of the department concerned would be held responsible.
Observing that despite having adequate number of beds in de-addiction centres, drug addicts were not willing to come there, the court directed the authorities, “People would not come. You need to go to them and encourage them. Put in place a system.”
The court also noticed that since many private de-addiction centres were overcharging patients, the latter should be encouraged to approach government de-addiction centres. Also, de-addiction centres overcharging patients should be highlighted by the media, said justice Bhalla.