In response to BBA petition, the Hon’ble Supreme Court, in a landmark verdict, directed the central government to finalise within 6 months the Demand Reduction Policy with a special focus on children. It directed that the policy should cover the establishment and accreditation of de-addiction centres for children. Regarding Bachpan Bachao Andolan’s demand of awareness on drug abuse through school curriculum, the Hon’ble court directed for the development of age-appropriate curriculum for all schools for sensitizing and spreading awareness on the ill-effects of drugs.
Earlier this year, Bachpan Bachao Andolan had filed a petition before the Hon’ble Court seeking intervention of the Hon’ble Court for appropriate directions regarding the alarming use of drugs, alcohol, and other substances amongst children and especially adolescents.
India has the highest child population in the world with adolescents forming 24% of the country’s population at 24 crore. They form one of the most vulnerable groups from the perspective of social, education, moral and physical development. Various researches and reports have recently highlighted the growing increase in the consumption of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, other substances among the children below 18 years and youth.
In the absence of policy vision and planning on the part of law enforcement agencies and because of the taboo in the society which makes such children being looked down at, intensifies the problem manifold. Moreover, the lack of de-addiction centres which are child friendly and cater to children’s needs, further aggravates the magnitude of the problems.
Through the petition, BBA sought intervention in the form of:
- Formulation of a National Action Plan for Children on the issue of drugs, alcohol and other substance abuse;
- Creation of age-appropriate curriculum on drug and substance abuse to be taught compulsorily in schools;
- Creation of de-addiction centres in every district with a separate wing for children in each centre;
- Creation of a standard operating procedure to ensure the enforcement of provision specially 77 and 78 of JJ Act 2015, which provide for stringent punishment for persons indulged in sale and supply of drugs to children;
- Implementation of action plan to the National Policy on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic substances.
Mr. H. S. Phoolka, senior advocate in Delhi High Court, shared how the lack of separate de-addiction centre for minors can affect their growth by citing the case of a minor girl who got raped in a de-addiction centre in Delhi. Similarly, the failure of administrative system in handling the ever-growing menace of drugs and substance abuse in Punjab, has been resulting in former child drug addicts becoming drug peddlers and further gripping other minors in the trap.
We see this as a great step towards the commitment of our judicial system to curb the challenge and also facilitate effective de-addiction and rehabilitation of children trapped in drug abuse.