18 September 2020
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Courts in Punjab are sending drug addicts to prisons and not de-addiction centres, though the law provides for such rehabilitation of persons indulging in substance abuse, according to a study by a think tank. The study was unveiled here in the presence of former union law minister Salman Khurshid, former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court Justice Mukul Mudgal and former Additional Solicitor General K V Vishwanathan, who were of the view that sending drug addicts to prison instead of rehabilitation would result in turning them into traffickers. They stressed that drug peddlers ought to be targeted rather than the addicts. The report prepared by the think tank Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy stated that despite provisions in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act allowing people caught with drugs to be sent to de-addiction centres for rehabilitation, the courts in Punjab were sending them to jail. Sections 39 and 64A of the NDPS Act state that people caught with small quantities of drugs can opt for de-addiction treatment in a govt approved centre instead of imprisonment. The study ‘From Addict to Convict: the Working of the NDPS Act in Punjab’ also said that between 2013 and 2015, no person brought before the courts in Punjab was directed to de-addiction and rehabilitation through the courts.

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