Chandigarh: A report by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy – a leading think tank – says that Punjab leads the country not only in cumsumption of drugs but also in drug-related crimes and the scenario is nothing short of frightening.
According to Centre’s senior resident fellow Neha Singhal, even the stringent Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act is proving ineffective in Punjab.
From addict to convict
The report titled ‘From Addict to Convict: A study of the NDPS Act in Punjab’ is based on survey conducted in all the 18 districts of Punjab. It was released at a programme in New Delhi. Among those who released the report were Mukul Mudgal, former judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, former MP Salman Khursheed, former additional solicitor general KV Vishwanath and former special director of the VBI Bawinder Singh.
The survey found that while 14,564 cases of drug-related crimes were reported from the rest of the country in 2013, their number was 34,688 in Punjab alone. Out of total cases under NDPS heard in the courts in Punjab between 2013 and 2015, the age of the accused persons was between 20 and 40 years in 71.4 per cent cases and between 20 and 30 years in 40 per cent cases.
According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics, Punjab’s share of crimes in India under NDPS Act climbed from 9.2 per cent in 2001 to a peak of 42.3 per cent in 2013. Although the numbers have come down gradually since then, the figure was still 10 times more than Punjab’s all-India share in Indian Penal Code crimes in 2016.
The Centre has also questioned the legal procedure. The survey said the average punishment in cases of misuse of pharmceutical drugs is 10 years in rest of the country but in Punjab it is three months.
The Centre has recommended to the Punjab government that the police and judiciary should increase public awareness. All issues related to drugs should be handled by one department.