Punjab poll: List steps for drug-free poll, SEC told

EC made party to case | Next hearing on Jan 20 | Roadmap to fight menace sought from state

Punjab poll: List steps for drug-free poll, SEC told

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has taken cognisance of incidents of “drugs for vote” in the Punjab Assembly elections before issuing a notice to the State Election Commission (SEC) to solicit its response on ensuring drug-free poll.

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has taken cognisance of incidents of “drugs for vote” in the Punjab Assembly elections before issuing a notice to the State Election Commission (SEC) to solicit its response on ensuring drug-free poll.

It has also made the Election Commission of India a party to the case and fixed January 20 as the next date of hearing. The Bench of Justice Ajay Tewari and Justice Pankaj Jain asserted that a former Chief Election Commissioner had stated regarding the 2012 elections that around 55 kg of heroin and around 430 kg of poppy husk were recovered in a month alone in Punjab, and almost every psychotropic substance was found in circulation during the poll.

Speaking for the Bench, Justice Jain asserted that a picture of mustard fields with prosperous farmers would showcase this land of five rivers, but Punjab of today was synonymous with a wailing mother holding her son’s corpse who died of drug overdose. The Bench asserted there were more than 16,000 convicts under the NDPS Act and a majority of them were in Punjab. “This makes out a case for the state to look beyond deterrent measure in the form of the NDPS Act and evolve reformative measures as well.”

The Bench also directed the state to specify whether it had a roadmap in place to fight the drug menace, whether a state-sponsored scientific study by any government or non-government organisation had ever been conducted on the cause and effect of drug addiction and whether the state had ever mapped drug addiction and found out the most affected areas/districts.

It was also asked to specify if further study was carried out to find out the reasons for the menace in the affected area. The Bench also asked for the timeframe to conduct the study in case it had not been carried out till now.

“…This court is sure that there must be some individual efforts being made by public-spirited citizens on drugs issue, but the menace by now is beyond the individual efforts. These efforts need to be integrated to respond to this ailment. It is for the state to shoulder the responsibility to catalyse such a response,” the Bench added.

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