Expressing concern over the fate of drug addicts in Punjab,Haryana and Chandigarh,the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the three states to explain as to what steps have been taken to facilitate counselling and rehabilitation and why a separate policy governing these centres should not be formulated.
The health secretaries of the three states have been asked to remain present in the court next week wit their replies.
The directions have been passed in the wake of a petition filed by Talwinder Pal Singh of Jeewanjot Organisation of Promotion and Empowerment of Humanity in Mohali and Gagandeep Singh of the Chetna Foundation in Zirakpur.
The two had moved the High Court challenging an order dated August 27,2008,passed by the Mohali district magistrate ordering closure down the two centres.
The petitioner societies are NGOs and were started to address drug abuse in youths in Punjab and Haryana through counselling and rehabilitation.
The petitioners have claimed that according to the latest reports,more than 50 per cent of the youth in Punjab use chemical drugs,which will have a disastrous effect on the life and health of the state. The Punjab government has,till now,not rebutted the claim of the petitioners.
The petitioners have submitted that drug addiction is a disease that cannot be cured by any medicine and an addict can be kept away from drugs through regular counselling and by creating a will in the addict to stay away from drugs.
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has also prepared a scheme for prevention of alcoholism and substance abuse which provides for even grants by the government to set up rehabilitation centers.
The centres alleged that since they are working against the interest of the drug mafia,false and frivolous complaints are maneuvered and raids are conducted at the centres by some human rights activists,CMO,SDM and police in order to compel them to shut down.
Till date there is no policy or guidelines by the state of Punjab to run the centres and the rehabilitation centres are being run on non-profit basis by the petitioner’s societies as per the norms set up by the Government of India. In the absence of any rules or policy,the petitioner societies are being harassed and humiliated and being compelled to close down under the pressure of the drug mafia and big private hospitals. We are running drug counselling and rehabilitation centers and not de-addiction centers, counsel for petitioners,senior advocate Atul Lakhanpal averred.