Kerala High Court: Instant writ petition was registered suo motu, taking note of the menace of drug consumption and trade in State. The Bench of S. Manikumar, CJ., and A.M. Shaffique, J., observed the difficulties faced by Police officials while using “Abon Kits” to spot cases drug consumption. The Bench suggested,
“Efforts have to be taken to identify whether any ‘user-friendly’ device, at the same time ‘less expensive’, is available, and if so, to cause it to be procured and make the same available to the Police, Excise, and such other departments for extensive use.”
Ramachandran, former District Police Chief, addressed a letter to Judges of High Court highlighting various aspects of drug abuse in Kerala. The letter had thrown light on increasing rate of crimes committed by youths under the influence of drugs and its alarming growth in children/students of both genders. Pursuant to the letter and observing that issues concerning rampant drug abuse were recently reported in the editorials of major newspapers, the Court had registered suo moto petition in the matter.
The Bench observed reports of various organizations on this matter. International journal of community medicine and public health had reported that 31.8% of Kerala youth abuse any one of the substances-alcohol, smoking, pan chewing, narcotics— irrespective of time and frequency in lifetime. Report of the State Special Branch, suggested that around 400 institutions in the State were affected by drug abuse and out of the education institutions, 74.12% are schools, 20.89% are colleges and professional institutions, and 4.97% are other institutions viz., ITI, Polytechnics etc. The report of NCRB had noted that in 2017 Kerala’s incidence rate for NDPS cases (cases per lakh people) was 16.6 percent, second only to Punjab’s 20.2 per cent.
The report also revealed that a range of drugs from Ganja, Hashish to Synthetic Drugs were used by the student community. The report further revealed that in most of the cases detected in the college campuses, the seizure was below 1 kg of ganja, which was bailable, and this encourages a person to engage in drug abuse.
“Apart from the narcotic and synthetic drugs usage being rampant among the student community, inhaling of Noxious chemicals like whitener, ink, fevicol, varnish solution used for repairing tyre puncture, were being used by the students for getting intoxication.”
Noticing that the above substances did not come under the purview of NDPS Act, no legal action could be initiated; the Bench suggested three main strategies for drug prevention:
- Mass media campaigns to inform and warn the public of the dangers of drug use.
- Educating children at school about drugs.
- Efforts to raise awareness and change the attitude in targeted groups, such as vulnerable and disadvantaged young people.
In Binu v. Union of India, 2011 SCC OnLine Ker 4151, this Court had expressed, nobody ha a right to expose the gullible population to the perils of drug abuse and push them into a condemned world of no return. The deleterious effects of these toxins on the human system have been scientifically proved.
“Narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances have a sure tendency to depersonalize those who consume them and reduce them to worthless freaks of nature. Some of these drugs are so potent that even the first dose produces addiction with a craving for excess. Adolescents constitute the first causality among the vulnerable sections.”
Considering the entire material on record, the Bench issued following directions be complied with strictly, in letter and spirit, in accordance with law, within a period of three months:
- State should to adopt a method of establishing Campus Police Units, to conduct regular checking inside educational institutions. Measures should also be taken to make it easier for the police personnel to enforce NDPS Act, 1985, in the educational institutions.
- State was also directed to convene a meeting of all the key officials from the Department of Home Affairs, Excise, Health, Law, Education and representative of State Mental Health authority, Department of Social Justice, and chalk out programmes, to ensure reduction in the incidence of Substance abuse among teenagers and youth and for the implementation of the suggestions made above.
- The Universities/Colleges/School authorities should be provided with guidelines as a charter of duties and responsibilities, to make the campuses of the educational institutions, drug free.
- Police officials should seek the services of Student Police Cadets, NCC, NSS etc., to tide over the situation that the students are unaware of the legal repercussions of the usage and trafficking of drugs, and the health and career hazards caused due to the usage of drugs.
- Police was also directed to introduce a special scheme to ensure that the premises of the educational institutions and Universities are drug free and should initiate steps to conduct anti-drug programmes in the institutions, propagate health awareness campaigns, and use the assistance of social media.
- Police Chief was further directed to establish counselling and rehabilitation mechanisms, to save the students who were already using drugs and addicts, and for that purpose, the co-operation of University authorities, affected students, and their parents be elicited.[Suo Motu v. State of Kerala, 2021 SCC OnLine Ker 665, decided on 10-02-2021]
Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this story together