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Monday, December 19, 2016

BACHPAN BACHAO ANDOLAN Vs. UNION OF INDIA AND ORS


                                                                  REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                         CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION


                    WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 906 OF 2014



BACHPAN BACHAO ANDOLAN                   .... PETITIONER
                                         VERSUS
UNION OF INDIA & ORS              ..... RESPONDENTS



                           J  U  D  G  M  E  N  T


Dr D Y CHANDRACHUD, J

These proceedings which  have  been  instituted  under  Article  32  of  the
Constitution by  Bachpan  Bachao  Andolan  bring  focus  upon  the  alarming
increase in the use of drugs  and  alcohol  among  children  in  India.  The
petition has been instituted  in  the  public  interest  for  enforcing  the
fundamental  rights  of  children  particularly  those  suffering  from  and
involved in substance use and abuse. The petitioner seeks  the  intervention
of this Court for a  mandamus  to  the  Union  of  India  to  formulate  and
implement a national action  plan  for  children  on  the  issue  of  drugs,
alcohol and substance abuse amongst children. This must,  according  to  the
petitioner, include in its coverage  issues  pertaining  to  identification,
investigation, recovery, counselling and  rehabilitation.  This  essentially
is the main relief  which  has  been  sought.  Other  incidental  directions
include steps to incorporate appropriate content in the  school  curriculum;
creation of a coordinating body; imposing  mandatory  duties  for  reporting
drugs  and  substance  abuse  on  school  principals  and  on  the   police;
establishment of de-addiction centres in every district and  at  the  tehsil
level; protecting children reporting drug use from harm;  preparation  of  a
national database and a direction for  the  registration  of  cases  against
persons supplying tobacco,  alcohol  and  drugs  to  children.  Supplemental
reliefs are claimed in these proceedings.

2     India is home to the largest child population in the world  with  over
forty-four crore children, according to the  census  of  2011.  Among  this,
twenty-four  crore  children  constituting  twenty-four   percent   of   the
population of the country are adolescent. They constitute a  vulnerable  age
group for social, educational, moral and  physical  development.  Protecting
children from wide-spread prevalence  of  substance  abuse  is  one  of  the
biggest policy challenges facing India. Recent reports both of official  and
private agencies indicate that there has been a substantial increase in  the
prevalence of use and abuse of substances in young  children.  A  nationwide
survey was carried out on the basis of  a  representative  household  sample
across the country as  the  National  Family  Health  Survey,  2005-06.  The
petitioner has relied upon several reports which  indicate  the  nature  and
extent of substance abuse in children. Many  of  them  make  recommendations
for the formulation and implementation of policy.


3     In this part of the judgment, we will broadly  summarize  the  content
of the reports mentioned above :
(i)   Report of Planning Commission’s Working Group on Adolescent and  Youth
Development, for formulation of 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) :
“Substance abuse among young people is on the increase. That  could  be  due
to peer pressure or stress and frustration. Children are not fully aware  of
the full implications of abuse to their  health  and  to  their  life.  Drug
mafia and cartels target young people in cities and towns and once they  are
addicted, it is an easy market for them.”

(ii)  Research Study by National Commission on Protection  of  Child  Rights
(August 2013) :

The final study sample comprised of 4024  children  between  5-18  years  of
age. The study indicates that :

“…Of the boys aged 15-19 years (n=13,009), 28.6% reported  tobacco  use  and
11%  reported  alcohol  use.  Similarly,  in  the  girls  aged  15-19  years
(n=24,811), 3.5% reported tobacco  use  and  1%  reported  alcohol  use.  It
appears to be an upward trend from the previous round of the  survey  (NFHS-
2; 1998-99) where the prevalence of alcohol use was found  to  be  2.4%  for
boys and 0.6% for girls [13). Further,  it  appears  that  among  those  who
‘drink’, a significant percentage of boys and girls  are  using  alcohol  at
least weekly (18.3-39.8%) or even  daily  (3.4-6.8%)…..majority  reported  a
lifetime use of variety of substance. Tobacco  at  83.2%  and  alcohol  (68%
were the most common  substance  followed  by  cannabis  (35.4%),  inhalants
(34.7%), pharmaceutical opiods (18.1%), sedatives  (7.9%)  and  heroin/smack
(7.9%).  A  significant  proportion  (12.6%)  reported  use  of   injectable
substances.”

The study showed  several  glaring  issues  pertaining  to  the  pattern  of
substance abuse amongst children :
Tobacco and inhalants were used almost  on  a  daily  basis,  several  other
substances were being used on less than daily or intermittent basis  in  the
past month

The study showed that the mean age of onset was  lowest  for  tobacco  (12.3
years) followed by onset of inhalants (12.4 years), cannabis  (13.4  years),
alcohol (13.6 years), proceeding then to use of  harder  substances-  opium,
heroin  (14.3-14.9  years)  and  then  finally  use  of  substances  through
injecting route (15.1 years).

The study  highlighted  the  regional  issues  and  preferences.  Choice  of
substance showed some regional variations.

The  study   also   highlighted   various   other   issues   pertaining   to
rehabilitation and reintegration of children in the mainstream of society.

Recommendations :

1)   The study has highlighted the pressing need for  initiating  programmes
for prevention and treatment.  There  is  a  need  to  sensitize  the  state
governments  and  all  the  important  stakeholders  about  the  problem  of
substance use among children in the country;

2)  Prevention programmes must target multiple settings  and  multiple  risk
factors particularly vulnerable  children  such  as  children  of  substance
users, children injecting substances, street children, children involved  in
child labour, trafficked children, children of sex  workers  and  any  other
category most at risk;

3)  Prevention in schools should  include  universal  prevention  programmes
such as education and life skill programmes. School going children  who  are
at risk should  have  access  to  professional  counselling  in  the  school
setting;
4)  There is need for availability of  specialized  treatment  services  for
children who are using substances. These services  should  be  available  in
government  hospitals;  NGOs  funded  by  Ministry  of  Social  Justice  and
Empowerment (MSJE)  and  also  by  NGOs  that  provide  services  to  street
children. Detoxification should be available at government run  de-addiction
centres with rehabilitation  in  NGO/Community  setting  with  linkage  with
NGOs;

5)  Rehabilitation  efforts  focussing  on  skill  building  and  vocational
training should be provided by NGOs;

6)   Juvenile homes and Children homes should  have  service  provision  for
substance using children through linkage with treatment service;

7)     There is need for provision of service by the  TI  NGOs  to  children
who are injecting substances. Action to be taken by NACO/SACS;

8)     Prevention efforts must  target  both  demand  and  supply  reduction
efforts. Supply reduction efforts should limit availability of  tobacco  and
alcohol near residential areas and schools;

9)    Size estimation of substance using children should be carried  out  in
specific high risk areas, metropolitan cities and conflict areas; and

10)  School based surveys should be conducted at a national level  based  on
a representative sample.

(iii) Annual Report of  the  Ministry  of  Social  Justice  and  Empowerment
(2013-2014)[1] :
The report defines “a  victim  of  substance  abuse”  as  a  person  who  is
addicted to/dependent on alcohol, narcotic  drugs,  psychotropic  substances
or any other addictive substances (other than tobacco).
The report states:
Alcoholism and substance abuse is assuming an alarming magnitude. 12th  plan
envisages an urgent need for effective counter measures  through  programmes
in convergence mode

Various Central Ministries need better coordination and convergence.

All  existing  schematic  and  non-schematic  interventions  made   by   the
ministries need to be integrated under a Mission Mode programme.

Preventive measures need to be taken to reduce both supply  and  demand  and
universal access to preventive treatment and  rehabilitation  of  alcoholism
and drug abuse.

Integrated Rehabilitation Centres of  Addicts  (IRCAs)  assisted  under  the
scheme of assistance for the prevention of alcoholism and substance  (drugs)
abuse and for social defence services run by  voluntary  organizations  need
to be strengthened[2].

Broad strategy[3] :

The overall strategy is awareness generation,  identification,  counselling,
treatment and rehabilitation of drug dependent persons though  collaborative
efforts of the Central and State Governments,  Voluntary  organizations  and
other national and international bodies. With a view to reducing the  demand
for and  consumption  of  addictive  substances,  the  thrust  would  be  on
preventive education programmes, comprehensive recovery of addicted  persons
and their reintegration into society.

In order to achieve the objectives of the Policy, the  key  strategies  will
be as follows :


To evolve appropriate models for the prevention of alcoholism and  substance
abuse, treatment and rehabilitation of drug dependent individuals;

To promote collective initiatives and self-help endeavour among  individuals
and groups vulnerable to dependence or found at risk;

To increase community participation and public cooperation in the  reduction
of demand for dependence-producing substances;

To create a pool of trained human resources personnel and service  providers
to strengthen the service delivery mechanisms;

To establish and foster appropriate synergy  between  interventions  by  the
State, corporate initiatives, the voluntary sector  and  other  stakeholders
in the field of substance abuse prevention;

To facilitate networking among policy planners, service providers and  other
stakeholders with an aim to encourage appropriate advocacy;

To promote and sustain a system  of  continuous  monitoring  and  evaluation
including self-correctional mechanism.

It is the aim of the draft National Policy to strive  for  a  society  where
use of intoxicating drugs is discouraged through  awareness  generation  and
prevention, directed towards the young and  adolescents-helping  individuals
make appropriate choices and stay away  from  drugs.  Persons  dependent  on
substance abuse will be encouraged to give up drugs through a  continuum  of
care and treatment services. Reducing the demand  for  addictive  substances
with the active support of  all  stakeholders,  including  governmental  and
civil society organizations, is the goal.

While recognizing the need for services, it is also  necessary  to  increase
the range of services and the access to various modalities of  interventions
for prevention, treatment, rehabilitation with  a  focus  on  the  poor  and
marginalized sections of the society. Special attention  would  be  provided
to groups at high risk.

School children are highly impressionable and are influenced largely by  the
peer  group  behaviour.   Appropriate   interventions   in   the   form   of
curricular/co-curricular contents will be put in place in  the  schools  and
colleges for awareness generation. Interventions will be evidence based  and
supported by sustainable strategies.

Street children/adolescents have always been vulnerable to abuse of  certain
drugs like pharmaceuticals, solvents,  inhalants,  etc.  They  do  not  have
access to health care and there is a total lack  of  preventive  initiatives
for these children as they are cut off from  school  systems  and  community
programmes, which are the general vehicles for such  interventions.  Curbing
the sale and abuse of pharmaceutical and other  such  substances,  including
solvents, glue etc, will be an important element of the  policy.  Rights  of
the children are to be respected and protected. The National Commission  for
Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)  visualises  a  rights-based  perspective
flowing into National Policies and Programmes, along with nuanced  responses
at the State, District and Block levels, taking care  of  specificities  and
strengths of each region.

  Facilities exclusively  for  such  adolescents  should  be  provided.  The
essential requirements for them include psycho-social  support,  life  skill
training, nutrition and health facilities, educational and formal  training,
recreational facilities including sports and referral  services.  Protective
measures will be met through night shelters/drop-in centres and easy  access
to  health  services  including  counselling  and  de-addiction  facilities.
Police and judiciary should be sensitized about these issues.

  Women and young girls are affected by drug and alcohol  abuse  in  various
ways.  They  suffer  the  economic,  social  and  physical  consequences  as
partners of male drug users. Some of them may  themselves  become  addicted,
increasing their vulnerability for this population sub-groups.

Recognizing the close nexus between substance abuse  and  HIV/AIDS  and  the
fact that drug injecting person is  vulnerable  to  HIV/AIDS,  the  National
Policy envisages that the population at  risk  will  be  sensitized  to  the
threat of and wherever necessary, treated for screening  and  identification
for HIV/AIDS. Drug demand reduction and HIV/AIDS prevention programmes  will
be synergized to address the spread of HIV/AIDS amongst substance abusers.

There will be three different levels of  the  substance  abuse  intervention
strategy as follows :

Primary prevention encouraging abstinence by generating awareness;
Secondary prevention to facilitate the process of behaviour change of  high-
risk  individuals,  early  identification,  treatment  and  counselling   of
affected individuals;
Tertiary  prevention  by  providing  rehabilitation  and  reintegration   of
recovering persons into the social mainstream.

Broad Strategy :

Preventive education & awareness building by multiple agencies

Comprehensive package for recovery of affected individuals

Increase range of services

Develop multiple modalities of interventions

(iv)  National Policy on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic  Substances  (NDPS)
drafted by the Ministry of Finance, Depament of Revenue :

The Policy has attempted to curb the  menace  of  drug  abuse  and  contains
provisions  for  treatment,  rehabilitation  and  social  reintegration   of
victims of drug abuse :

In Para 55 of the policy, special emphasis is made to  stop  the  menace  of
drug abuse amongst children e.g.- local police should pay special  attention
to areas surrounding schools and colleges; schools and colleges  to  conduct
surveys to  assess  the  level  of  addiction;  educational  authorities  to
include a mandatory and comprehensive chapter  on  drug  abuse  and  illicit
trafficking and its social-economic cost.

The policy, in its Annexure includes a  time  bound  and  specific  Plan  of
Action. The policy has prepared a  ‘Plan  of  Action’  with  regard  to  the
following recommendations: National Drug Control System, National Survey  on
Drug  Abuse,  Demand  Reduction  Activities,  Supply  Reduction  Activities,
Control of licit cultivation of opium poppy and production of opium, etc.

4     We find that  there  have  been  numerous  statements  of  policy,  by
different arms  of  the  government.  What  is  needed  is  a  comprehensive
formulation of a National Plan which will form  the  basis  of  co-ordinated
intervention  by  the  Union  and  State  governments  together  with  their
agencies in collaboration with  expert  institutions  at  the  national  and
international levels having a bearing on the issue.

5      United Nations Conventions


A.    India is a signatory to three United  Nations  Conventions,  having  a
bearing on the issue :
Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961;

Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971;

Convention   against    Illicit    Traffic    in    Narcotic    Drugs    and
Psychotropic Substances, 1988.

India has an  international  obligation  to  curb  drug  abuse.  The  United
Nations General Assembly, in its 20th Special Session in 1998, has  accepted
demand reduction as an indispensable pillar of drug control strategies.  The
demand reduction strategy consists of education,  treatment,  rehabilitation
and social integration of drug dependent  persons  for  prevention  of  drug
abuse.

B.    Article 38 of  the  Single  Convention  on  Narcotic  Drugs  of  1961,
suggests the following measures against the abuse of drugs :

“The Parties shall give  special  attention  to  and  take  all  practicable
measures  for  the  prevention  of  abuse  of  drugs  and  for   the   early
identification, treatment, education, after-care, rehabilitation and  social
reintegration of the persons involved and shall  co-ordinate  their  efforts
to these ends.



The Parties shall as far as possible promote the training  of  personnel  in
the  treatment,  after-care,  rehabilitation  and  social  reintegration  of
abusers of drugs.



The Parties shall take all practicable  measures  to  assist  persons  whose
work so requires to gain an understanding of the problems of abuse of  drugs
and of its prevention, and shall also promote such understanding  among  the
general public  if  there  is  a  risk  that  abuse  of  drugs  will  become
widespread.”



C.    Article 12 of SAARC Convention  on  Narcotic  Drugs  and  Psychotropic
Substances[4] :
Measures to eliminate illicit demand for  Narcotic  drugs  and  psychotropic
substances are set out as follows :
Each Member  State  shall  take  appropriate  measures  to  prevent  illicit
cultivation of and to eradicate plants containing narcotic  or  psychotropic
substances, such as opium poppy, coca bush and cannabis  plants,  cultivated
illicitly in its territory.



The  Member  States  may  cooperate  to  increase   the   effectiveness   of
eradication efforts. Towards this end, Member States shall  also  facilitate
the exchange or scientific and technical  information  and  the  conduct  of
research concerning eradication.



The Member States shall adopt appropriate measures aimed at  eliminating  or
reducing illicit demand for  narcotic  drugs  and  psychotropic  substances,
with  a  view  to  reducing  human  suffering  and   eliminating   financial
Incentives for illicit traffic.



The Member States may also take necessary measures for early destruction  or
lawful  disposal  of  the  narcotic  drugs,  psychotropic   substances   and
substances listed in Table I and Table  II  of  the  1988  U.N.  Convention,
which have been seized or confiscated.

D.    Article 33 of the Convention on Rights of Child provides as follows :
“States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including  legislative,
administrative, social and educational measures, to  protect  children  from
the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined  in
the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of  children  in
the illicit production and trafficking of such substances.”

E.    The high-level segment of the fifty-second session of  the  Commission
on Narcotic Drugs was held on 11 and 12  March  2009  to  evaluate  progress
made since 1998 towards meeting the goals and  targets  established  at  the
twentieth special session of the General Assembly for
Countering the world drug problem together;

To identify future priorities and areas requiring further action  and  goals
and targets to be established for drug control beyond 2009;

To  adopt  a  political  declaration   and   other   measures   to   enhance
international cooperation.

The member states pledged to adopt  a  political  declaration  and  plan  of
action on international  cooperation  towards  an  integrated  and  balanced
strategy to counter the world drug problem.  The  member  states  reaffirmed
that the ultimate goal of both demand and supply  reduction  strategies  and
sustainable development strategies is to minimize and  eventually  eliminate
the availability and use of illicit drugs  and  psychotropic  substances  in
order to ensure the health  and  welfare  of  humankind  and  encourage  the
exchange of best practices in demand and  supply  reduction,  and  emphasize
that each strategy is ineffective in the absence of the other. They  further
agreed  that  amphetamine-type  stimulants   and   psychotropic   substances
continue  to  pose  a  serious  and   constantly   evolving   challenge   to
international drug control efforts, which  threatens  the  security,  health
and welfare of the population, especially youth, and requires a focused  and
comprehensive national, regional and global response,  based  on  scientific
evidence and experience, in an international and multi-sectoral setting.

6     The situation is compounded  by  the  fact  that  children  are  being
encouraged to become drug peddlers, once a child is addicted to drugs.

Parliamentary intervention

7     Legislative  interventions  since  2000  have  brought  focus  on  the
vulnerabilities of  children,  particularly  in  the  context  of  substance
abuse. The Juvenile Justice (Care and  Protection  of  Children)  Act,  2000
defined the expression “child in need of care and protection” to include  “…
a child who is being  or  is  likely  to  be  grossly  abused,  tortured  or
exploited for the  purpose  of  sexual  abuse  or  illegal  acts…”  (Section
2(d)(vi)).

Section 25 provided penalties in the following terms :
“Section 25. Penalty for giving intoxicating  liquor  or  narcotic  drug  or
psychotropic substance to juvenile or child:

Whoever gives, or causes to be given, to  any  juvenile  or  the  child  any
intoxicating liquor in a public place or any narcotic drug  or  psychotropic
substance except upon the order of duly qualified  medical  practitioner  or
in case of sickness shall be punishable with imprisonment for a  term  which
may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.”


8     Parliament enacted  the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and  Protection  of
Children) Act, 2015 which  received  the  assent  of  the  President  on  31
December 2015. The expression ‘child in need  of  care  and  protection’  is
defined in clauses (viii), (ix) and (x) of Section 2(14) as follows :
“Section 2(14).Child in need of care and protection” means a    child—

***
who has been or is being or is likely to be abused,  tortured  or  exploited
for the purpose of sexual abuse or illegal acts; or

who is found vulnerable and is likely to be  inducted  into  drug  abuse  or
trafficking; or

who is being or is likely to be abused for unconscionable gains.”



Section  3  enunciates  the  general  principles  to  be  followed  in   the
administration of the Act.  Among them are :
Principle of presumption of innocence;
Principle of dignity and worth;
Principle of participation;
Principle of best interest;
Principle of family responsibility;
Principle of safety;
Positive measures;
Principle of non-stigmatising semantics;
Principle of non-waiver of rights;
Principle of equality and non-  discrimination;
Principle of right to privacy and  confidentiality;
Principle of institutionalisation as a measure of last resort;
Principle of repatriation and restoration;
Principle of fresh start;
Principle of diversion;
Principles of natural justice.

Sections 77 and 78 provide penalties in the following terms :

“77. Whoever gives, or causes to be given, to  any  child  any  intoxicating
liquor or any narcotic drug or tobacco products or  psychotropic  substance,
except on the order of a  duly  qualified  medical  practitioner,  shall  be
punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend  to  seven
years and shall also be liable to a fine which may extend  up  to  one  lakh
rupees.
78. Whoever uses a child, for  vending,  peddling,  carrying,  supplying  or
smuggling any intoxicating liquor, narcotic drug or psychotropic  substance,
shall be liable for rigorous imprisonment for a term  which  may  extend  to
seven years and shall also be liable to a fine up to one lakh rupees.”


The 2015 Act provides the legal framework. Stringent punishments  have  been
provided. What is required is proper administrative implementation.

The need for a national data base

9     A counter affidavit has been filed in these proceedings on  behalf  of
the Union Ministry of Social  Justice  and  Empowerment.  Surprisingly,  the
affidavit indicates that there  is  no  authentic  data  on  the  number  of
victims of substance abuse in India. According to the Union Government,  the
figures quoted in the  report  of  the  Ministry  of  2013-14  are  only  an
approximation. In order to build a reliable database, a decision  was  taken
to conduct a detailed round of national survey through the  National  Sample
Survey Association (NSSO). NSSO  expressed  its  inability  to  conduct  the
survey.  The Ministry is stated to have approached the All  India  Institute
of Medical Sciences for conducting a national survey on  the  extent,  trend
and pattern of drug abuse.

10    Generation of reliable data is an essential requirement  of  a  policy
aimed at curbing substance abuse. In the  absence  of  accurate  data  at  a
national, state and sectoral level, policy interventions can at best  remain
ad hoc. For, in the absence of data there will be  no  realistic  assessment
of the nature and extent of policy interventions required having  regard  to
(i) vulnerable  states  and  regions;  (ii)  high  risk  populations;  (iii)
requirement of infrastructure, including  de-addiction  centres  across  the
states : (iv) requirement of trained  man  power;  and  (v)  requirement  of
rehabilitation, treatment and counselling services.

11    This is a basic deficiency which the Union government must redress  at
the earliest. We  direct  that  the  Union  Government  shall  expeditiously
conclude the national survey on drug abuse within a  period  of  six  months
from today.

Immediate concerns

The immediate areas requiring remedial attention have been summarized  below
:
Formulation of a national action plan for children;



Creation of a module containing an appropriate curriculum  for  children  of
all age groups in order to keep them away from drugs, alcohol and tobacco;



Setting up of de-addiction centres;



Establishing a standard operating procedure on enforcing the  provisions  of
the  Juvenile  Justice  (Care  and  Protection  of   Children)   Act,   2015
particularly Sections 77 and 78; and



Implementing the action plan with the national policy on narcotic drugs  and
psychotropic substance which has been approved by the Union Cabinet.

The counter affidavit addresses the steps taken by MSJE thus :
“The Ministry implements Central Sector Scheme of Assistance for  Prevention
of Alcoholism and Substance (Drugs) Abuse under which  financial  assistance
is  provided  to  NGOs/Voluntary  organizations   for   running   Integrated
Rehabilitation Centres for Addicts (IRCAs),  organizing  de-addiction  camps
and conducting awareness programmes, about the  ill  effects  of  Alcoholism
and Substance (Drugs) Abuse on the individual,  family,  workplace  and  the
society at large. At present the  Ministry  gives  financial  assistance  to
approximately 400 Integrated Rehabilitation  Centres  for  Addicts  (IRCAs),
which are spread, all over the country, These  IRCAs  aim  at  enabling  the
addict to achieve total assistance and improve their quality  of  life.  The
IRCAs  provide  the  whole  range  of  community  based  services  for   the
identification,  motivation,  counselling,  de-addiction,  after  case   and
rehabilitation for whole person recovery (WPR) of addicts to make  a  person
drug free, crime free and gainfully employed.”



The real need is to ensure the formulation of a National Plan  so  that  all
interventions are in accordance with a properly formulated  national  policy
framework.

12    The Union Government has stated that a national policy on drug  demand
reduction is being finalized.  The  priority  areas  of  intervention  would
include capacity building and training of service providers with a  view  to
build up skilled manpower, education and awareness building  at  all  levels
and inter-sectoral collaboration.  The  policy  also  proposes  to  adopt  a
system of accreditation of de-addiction centres.  The  policy  must  in  our
view address the need for setting up de-addiction centres in every  district
and address specific vulnerabilities particularly in  the  context  of  high
risk populations  including  children.  We  direct  that  this  exercise  be
completed and that a national policy be formulated within a  period  of  six
months from today.

13    As regards the formulation of a curriculum  incorporating  appropriate
aspects of generating awareness and sensitisation,  an  affidavit  has  been
filed on behalf of the Department of Higher Education in the Union  Ministry
of Human Resource Development. On 4 December 2015 directions were issued  in
the present case in pursuance of  which  inclusion  of  issues  relating  to
eradication of alcohol and drug abuse in the New Education Policy was  taken
up. A consultative process has been initiated by  the  Union  Government.  A
committee was constituted on 31 October 2015 for  the  evolution  of  a  New
Education Policy (NEP).     Out of 33 themes identified, 2 themes of  school
education are titled  :  (i)  comprehensive  education  –  ethics,  physical
education, arts and crafts; life skills; and (ii)  focus  on  child  health.
This, it has been  stated,  would  cover  “the  implied  importance  of  the
inclusion of issues pertaining to eradication of alcohol and drug  abuse  in
the NEP.”  MSJE has recommended tobacco and education on drug  abuse  within
two of the above themes. This has been  placed  before  the  Committee.  The
court is informed that the Committee indicated on 30 December 2015 that  the
theme relating to eradication of alcohol and drug abuse will be included  in
its recommendations.

14       The importance of adopting a holistic solution to deal with  issues
pertaining to alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse in the school  curriculum  has
to be adequately emphasized. We are of the view that since the entire  issue
is pending consideration before the government, it would be  appropriate  to
await the ultimate formulation. However, we may indicate  that  rather  than
resting on an “implied inclusion” of such an  important  subject  within  an
extant head or topic, it would be appropriate if the  competent  authorities
consider how children should be protected  from  the  dangers  of  substance
abuse. These are matters which should not be brushed under the  carpet.  The
authorities should consider how children should be  sensitised  (having  due
regard to the age and stage of the child) of the dangers of  drug  use,  the
necessity to  report  drug  use  and  the  need  to  develop  resistance  to
prevailing peer and social pressures.

15    The enormity of the problem makes  it  impractical  for  the  judicial
process to address all issues in one proceeding.  We  have  addressed  three
systemic issues mentioned above. We  have  done  so  on  the  basis  of  the
existing policy framework of the  Union  government,  as  evidenced  by  the
material to which we have adverted in the prefatory part of  this  judgment.
We have not laid down policy in exercise of judicial review. We have  issued
directions  to  enforce  obligations  under  the  existing  legislative  and
administrative framework.

16    We proceed to summarise, our directions to the  Union  government,  as
indicated earlier : The Union government shall
(i)  Complete a national survey and generate a national data base  within  a
period of six months;

(ii)  Formulate and adopt a comprehensive national plan within four  months,
which will among other things also address the areas  of  immediate  concern
noted earlier; and

(iii) Adopt specific content in the school curriculum  under  the  aegis  of
NEP.

17    We dispose  of  the  writ  petition  with  the  aforesaid  directions.
However, we grant liberty to the petitioner to move the  court  in  separate
proceedings when it becomes necessary to do so including on various  aspects
which have been the subject matter of these proceedings.


                             ............................................CJI

                                [T.S. THAKUR]


                           ................................................J

                                     [A.M. KHANWILKAR]


                           ................................................J

                                      [Dr D Y  CHANDRACHUD]


New Delhi
December 14, 2016

-----------------------
[1]
      [2] Relevant part pg. 20, full report at pg. 157
[3]   [4] Page 167
[5]   [6] Page no. 175 onwards
[7]   [8] Article 12, SAARC Convention on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic
Substances

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