Effectively fighting drug addiction, setting up of de-addiction centres least priority in J&K

Home Deptt officers pass buck on each other

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, June 26: While Union Government is stepping up efforts to fight drug addiction, the Jammu and Kashmir Government is dilly-dallying on working out strong mechanism to effectively fight the deep-rooted menace and framing of rules under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act for establishment of sufficient drugs de-addiction centres in the State.
The Section 78 of the NDPS Act confers powers on the State Government to make rules for carrying out the purpose of the principle Act. Similarly Section 71 confers powers on the Government to establish centres for identification, treatment, after-care, rehabilitation and social re-integration of drug addicts.
However, J&K Government has failed to ensure compliance to these provisions of the NDPS Act even after being reprimanded by the State High Court and State Accountability Commission a number of times and despite being aware of the drug addiction having assumed alarming proportion in the length and breadth of the State.
After waking up from deep slumber the Government Vide Order No.681-GAD dated April 24, 2018 constituted a committee for formulation of the draft rules under Sections 71 and 78 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 for establishment of sufficient drugs de-addiction centres in the State.
However, the committee comprising of officers of Finance, Home, Health and Medical Education and Social Welfare Departments not below the rank of Special Secretary has failed to accomplish the assigned task despite the lapse of over two months, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
When contacted, none of the Special Secretary rank officers of these departments could explain the progress made by the committee during the past over two months. Interestingly, all the three Special Secretary rank officers of the Home Department, which has a key role to play in tackling the growing menace of drug addiction, passed buck on each other and categorically stated that they were not associated with the exercise.
One of them said, “an Additional Secretary rank officer was earlier associated with the exercise of framing rules under NDPSA but I don’t know who was assigned the task after his transfer from the Home Department”.
“We have not received draft rules either directly from the committee or from Finance and Home Departments”, said senior officers of the Law Department. It is pertinent to mention here that draft rules under any law are required to be placed before the Law Department for vetting.
This has clearly established that task of framing of rules under NDPSA is still being handled casually and seriousness which was shown at the time of framing of committee has faded away with the passage of time.
It may be recalled that while taking serious note of casual approach of the Chief Secretary and Administrative Secretaries of four key departments, Jammu and Kashmir State Accountability Commission (SAC) in the month of March this year had sought comments directly from the Chief Minister and Ministers for Health and Social Welfare over inaction on the part of the Government in framing rules under NDPSA and establishment of de-addiction centres keeping in view growing menace of drug addiction in the State.
However, Accountability Commission could not proceed further in the matter as its suo-moto powers were challenged by the Government before the Supreme Court, which passed interim orders mentioning that Commission doesn’t enjoy such powers.
According to the sources, authorizing the officers for carrying out the purposes of the NDPSA has also not received the due attention of the Home Department despite the fact that authorized officer(s) enjoys sufficient powers under the Act vis-à-vis conducting searches, making seizures and freezing properties under Sub-Section 2 of Section 41.
There are only two full-fledged de-addiction centres-one each at Jammu and Srinagar being run by the Jammu and Kashmir Police. In other districts of the State, there is no full-fledged de-addiction centre to treat the drug addicts and whatever arrangement the J&K Police has made is aimed at only providing counseling to the drug-addicts or making suggestions to their parents for their better care.
“It is a matter of concern that while Union Government is stepping up efforts to fight drug-addiction, State Government has even failed to frame rules under NDPS Act”, sources regretted and hoped that Governor N N Vohra, who is managing the affairs of the State at present, will take note of this slackness and ensure prompt action.