The Punjab and Haryana high court wants an all-out war against the drug menace.
During a hearing on the issue of drug de-addiction centres on Friday, the high court not only wanted the Amritsar-based Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to help the government in this, but also said that it had "no issues" in the khaps of Haryana helping the government deal with the menace.
As the matter was being argued, the high court bench of justice Rajive Bhalla said there was need to supplement government efforts and other organisations should be roped in. The high court observed that there was need to have people at the lowest level who could keep a tab on those who went to de-addiction centres so that they did not relapse. But it should be an organisation with deep penetration in the hinterland, it said.
"The SGPC is a statutory body that has manpower and infrastructure to help the government run drug de-addiction centres. Why can't we have them on board?" justice Bhalla asked the various counsels during the hearing.
As the counsels agreed, the hearing was deferred for a while and the court staff was told to call senior advocate Kanwaljit Singh, who has been representing the religious body in various litigations in court. Justice Bhalla then asked Singh to speak to the SGPC about the proposal.
As one of the lawyers sitting in the court to assist it on the issue suggested roping in of khaps, Justice Bhalla said, "There are no issues in roping in khaps. If somebody is apolitical, we can get them in." He asked the counsels to look for a similar apolitical organisation in Haryana, which could help supplement government efforts at drug de-addiction centres.
States asked to file response
Later, Punjab, Haryana and the UT were asked to file a response whether provisions could be made to check that those who visited the de-addiction centres did not relapse and that they were counselled and monitored.
The Haryana government, which failed to file a "proper" response to the court order on the state of its centres, has been directed that a proper affidavit be filed failing which the secretary of the social justice department should remain present on the next hearing on August 28.
Punjab told the high court that only five government run de-addiction centres were operational in the state and 15 were under construction.
Punjab, Haryana and the UT have been asked to supply data as to how many of those who joined these centres relapsed after the treatment.