Coming down heavily on the Punjab and Haryana governments, the Punjab and Haryana high court on Wednesday termed Punjab as the motherland of the drug problem, adding that its neighbouring state was as bad.
During resumed hearing on a public interest litigation (PIL) on Punjab’s drug issue, the high court asked the state government how it was allowing so many chemist shops in villages and had failed in regulating the same. As the court was told by Punjab that it could not deny applications of eligible persons as per rules, the court asked what efforts it (government) had made to carry out amendments.
“It appears it (the sale of drugs) is as per their (officials’) blessings... Have you approached the central government for carrying out necessary amendments? Legislators would intervene if they are told about it,” the court observed, adding that there was lack of coordination between police and drug controllers and nobody wanted to share their powers.
As Haryana told the court that it was taking all possible steps and also gave details of action taken against violators, the HC said it (government) was merely resorting to lip service. The court cited a case wherein an FIR was registered against the Punjab Police for conducting a raid at a Karnal pharmaceutical unit that was accused of manufacturing synthetic drugs.
Later, the court bench directed Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and the local Narcotics Control Bureau to convene a meeting to find out the deficiencies in statutes, subordinate legislations and difficulties being faced by the police and drugs control department officials in the field. Officials of the health department, police heads of the narcotics wing, drug controllers and others involved in the decision-making process have been asked to attend the meeting and deliberate upon problems faced by those checking drug abuse and suggest solutions. The respective state’s law officers associated with the case would further fine-tune the suggestions made at the meeting. The court also directed that suggestions given by former Punjab director general of police (DGP, prisons) Shashi Kant be considered.
‘Curriculum can help create awareness’
The court has also directed Punjab, Haryana and the union territory of Chandigarh to look into other ways of educating people about the drug menace. The court said children and parents could be educated through documentaries and pamphlets in English and vernacular languages. They have also been asked to spread awareness through the school curriculum.