Drug abuse among children: SC asks Centre about steps taken to curb the menace

The issue of growing menace of drug abuse among children has come up again before the Supreme Court which asked the Centre to apprise it of steps taken to comply with its 2016 verdict that had directed measures including formulation of a national action plan to combat it.

While deciding a PIL filed by NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan 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 schoolchildren and had also ordered a national survey to gauge the extent of the menace.

“Let the matter be listed on August 20 to enable Pinky Anand, ASG, to apprise this court what steps have been taken to comply with the judgment of this court.

“We hope and trust that the learned ASG would be in a position to inform us about the steps taken, which will assist us for the purpose of implementation of the judgment,” a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.

Senior advocate H S Phoolka, appearing for the NGO, said that the Centre has failed to comply with the judgement which was delivered way back in 2016.

Besides directing formulation of the action plan, the bench had directed 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 the states — to create awareness about the serious consequences of the 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 childcare institutions were on drugs and 93 per cent of street children consumed narcotics.

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

The 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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