SC asks Centre, AIIMS to expedite action plan on growing menace of drugs abuse

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NEW DELHI, Sept 10 (PTI): The Supreme Court Monday asked AIIMS and the Centre to expedite the national survey as also the formulation of action plan to curb the growing menace of drug abuse in the society, including by school-going children.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud was informed by the Centre that the survey has already begun, in March this year, and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment have been involved in the process.

“We expect the AIIMS and Union of India to abide by our orders. List the PIL in the 2nd week of February” the bench said when Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh sought 12 weeks time for completing the survey and the analysis of the report.

The court was hearing a PIL filed last year by Ketireddy Jagadishwar Reddy, through lawyer Sravan Kumar, alleging that the 2016 verdict of the apex court on the plea of NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) was not being complied with.

The apex court had on July 22 asked the All India Institute of Medical Sciences to formulate a national action plan to curb the growing menace of drug abuse in the society, including by school-going children.

The court had also made it clear to the ASG that no extension of time would be granted to the government and AIIMS in formulating the policy on drug menace as the issue was of “national importance”.

While deciding the PIL of BBA of Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi, the apex court, in December 2016, had issued a slew of guidelines and had asked the Centre to formulate within six months the national action plan to curb rising substance abuse cases among school children and had also ordered a national survey to gauge the extent of the menace.

The AIIMS has to formulate the national policy to curb the rising drugs menace in society, besides formulating the measures to educate people about the ill effects of substance abuse.

Earlier also, the bench had taken a similar view on the plea filed by the NGO seeking enforcement of the apex court verdict delivered on its PIL in 2016.

Besides directing formulation of the action plan, the bench had asked the government to undertake a nationwide survey to identify the prevalence of drug abuse across the country.

While asking the governments — both at the Centre and in states — to create awareness about the serious consequences of drug abuse, the court had directed the Centre to include in the school curriculum the subject on harmful effects of using drugs.

The national capital alone has approximately one lakh street children and substance abuse is reported as a major health problem in this segment of the population, the PIL had said.

A study by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights on substance abuse by kids showed last year that 100 per cent of the children in conflict with the law were drug abusers, 95.5 per cent of them staying in child-care institutions were on drugs and 93 per cent of street children consumed narcotics.

The study also said that 88 per cent of the children consumed drugs due to “peer pressure”, the NGO had said.

The NGO in its PIL, filed in 2014, had sought a direction to formulate a national action plan for children on drugs and substance abuse including all issues of identification, investigation, recovery, counselling and rehabilitation.

It had also sought creation of model syllabus on ill-effects of drugs and substance abuse.

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