Six months before he took over as Chief Justice of India, Justice T S Thakur convinced Himachal Pradesh to agree to one of his innovative ideas that aims to make candidates contesting Panchayats elections to pledge that they’re neither involved in drug abuse, nor will allow anyone in the cultivation of cannabis or opium in their respective areas.
In June, top judges of the Supreme Court and more than half a dozen High Courts had held a three-day conference on drug abuse and discussed ways to tackle the growing menace of cultivation of cannabis and opium in sacred mountains and valleys of Kullu-Manali, besides other districts here.
Justice Thakur had camped for three days to get an assurance from the state government on the final day to adopt one of his novel ideas to deal with problem of drug trafficking in the state.
Just four days left for filing of nominations for the panchayats and Zila Parishads in Himachal Pradesh, the State Election Commission has made it mandatory for all candidates to make a self declaration about himself/herself to resolve to fight drug menace.
“There was a proposal from the government strongly recommending to the Commission to introduce a declaration form (form no 35) for the candidates, who besides other description such as their name, age etc will also pledge as having never indulged in the drug abuse or having ‘used’ any intoxicants like poppy ,opium and charas (cannabis),” T G Negi, State Election Commissioner told the Indian Express here.
In the declaration, the candidate will be required to state that he/she will neither himself/herself be involved in the cultivation of the cannabis or poppy nor will allow anyone to take-up cultivation of such crops, rather an effort will be made to motivate the people not to engage themselves in clandestine cultivation of the cannabis .
The panchayat elections in the state are slated to be held in three phases on January 1, 3 and 5 .The counting to the votes will be held same day. Recalls Manisha Nanda, state’s Additional Chief Secretary (Urban bodies ) who had made her presentation at the Manali judicial conference: “I remember this was one of the idea that emerged at the conference. Justice Thakur sought to take an assurance from the government to do it practically .The government was also asked to send a concrete draft plan in this particularly point so that a recommendation would be made to the GoI.”
The measure is seen as first such initiative, which will have a major impact on the psyche of the elected panchayat representatives whose support can be taken by the law enforcing agencies to get information on people involved in the drug traffic or cultivation of the cannabis – which has become a big challenge in Parbati valley and Manikaran belt of Kullu upto Malana, a high altitude village infamous for high value drug “ Malana cream”.
The State Election Commission has also debarred persons involved in illegal encroachments on the forest /government lands from contesting elections. Under section 122 (c) of the Panchayati Raj Act, even if candidates’ family member viz spouse, father-mother, grand-father or grandmother, son or unmarried daughter was involved in such, will be prohibited from contesting the election.