Reports Of Seminar And Rally 17-18.08.2018

LEGAL SERVICES TO VICTIMS OF DRUG ABUSE AND

ERADICATION OF DRUG MENACE

 

The session focused on how drugs and the effects of drugs have spread and caused so much harm to individuals, especially the young. With new challenges cropping up everyday - new types of drugs and its rapid increase in society, the judiciary must do its part and play a critical role in managing the spread of the dangerous substance, providing efficient rehabilitation centres and stricter laws and penalties for the convicted felons who bring them to our streets. This requires multilateral policy coordination.

 

The inaugural programme started at 09:34 a.m. with the arrival of Minister, Law and Judicial Department, Mizoram. The Member Secretary, Mizoram State Legal Services Authority, Shri Vanlalenmawia took the stage where there was a moment of silence in honour of the late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

 

Hon'ble Mr. Justice Michael Zothankhuma gave a short speech about the victims of drug abuse and the issues found in Mizoram. He talked about how the most common drugs—Cannabis, drugs found in medicines, methamphetamines and the most common, heroin are not found in large quantities and thus the main culprits, "the big fish" are never caught. It is upto the enforcement agencies and the Courts to control and enforce stricter laws on the culprits.

 

Hon’ble Mr. Justice Michael also gave his personal view that "we need to set our house in order". Elaborating that family is the first educational institution and emphasised that broken families is one of the main causes of drug abuse. He said that we are losing the fight against drugs and how we need new issues to help combat this ever growing menace. He posed the question of whether legalizing certain drugs might help the current situation, as America has done legalizing Cannabis. He ended his speech by saying that we should "stop the criminalization of people using drugs" and that it is the young people who are the most affected and that Agencies and Courts cannot do it alone without the assistance of the citizens.

Then the Hon'ble Minister Shri Lalsawta emphasised on how drugs bring poverty and misery to families and how the Courts play a vital role in punishing drug abusers, but it seems, for every 1 (one) criminal that is put away by the authorities, 10 (ten) more seem to be out there pushing drugs to the young people. How even strong NGO's like the Central Young Mizo Association is, but seems to be on the losing battle in this war. He closed his speech, thanking the concerned authorities for organizing such an important seminar with its very relatable topic.

 

The inaugural seminar came to an end with a vote of thanks from the Principalof Government Mizoram Law College.

 

Since the Hon'ble Mr. Justice Ujjal Bhuyan would only arrive in the evening, the last technical session was shifted to the first.

 

TECHNICAL SESSION-IV

Theme                   :        Rehabilitation of victims of drug abuse;

their re-integration into society.

Chairperson            :        Smt. Zoparliani Khiangte,

Asst. Professor, Government Mizoram Law College, Aizawl.

Resource person 1   :        Dr. Robert L.Khawlhring, Nodal Officer,

National Mental Health Mission.

 

Dr. Robert L.Khawlhring presented the different types of disorders that are the effects of drugs. He clarified what exactly are drugs and explained that we, Mizos consume a high amount of drugs that we do not even know about–bettlenut, tobacco in the form of smoking, liquid form of tobacco are the most common. The problem we are facing, he said, is that there is more than one multiple drug. People think that prevention is not rehabilitation and that working is the main source of mental health. When we work our brain is stimulated which gives us a healthy mind.

 

Dr. Robert explained how a person becomes dependent on a drug when one continues to use it even after knowing it is harmful. All people do not believe that drug addiction is a mental illness, however, it is well researched and proven that brain disease is similar to heart disease. He explained that there are steps in a person's rehabilitation and that many factors come into play for his recovery-the most important being the individual, the family, the society, law makers, Government and NGOs. He concluded his speech with "Change will only happen, when a person wants to change."

 

Resource person 2             :        Dr. Vijay Pratap Tiwari,

Associate Professor, Maharashtra National

Law University, Nagpur.

 

Dr. Vijay Pratap Tiwari put across that in the recent Parliament report there was a decline of HIV, however the North Eastern States including Mizoram saw a rapid increase in HIV patients. He explained that drugs have always been in use throughout civilization. He laid down Articles 41, 47 and 51 A (e) and (j) of the Indian Constitution and Section 71 NDPS as a reminder to why the Government of each state should be involved in tackling a society's menace.

 

Since drugs is a global problem, he laid down several International, Human Rights and Fundamental Rights of a person on tackling the issue of drugs. He talked of his own experience with mental health and how the society should stop thinking of mental health and a disease and instead of pushing them into drugs to supposedly cure them, appropriate and suitable help should be given.

 

Mr. Tiwari closed the session with a video on the effect drugs to the people and quoted "It is better to light one candle than to cube the darkness."

 

TECHNICAL SESSION-II

Theme 2                          :        Drug Abuse: The legal framework.

Chairperson                     :        Shri Joel Joseph Denga, MJS

                                                Chairperson, DLSA, Aizawl Judicial District

 

The Second Session began with a short introductory speech by the Chairperson Shri Joel Joseph Denga explaining how drugs found in Mizoram are mainly bought from Myanmar. The increase of drugs is due to lack of education, lack of parental control, which makes Mizo people susceptible to the deadly substance and thus infectious diseases.

 

Resource person 2            :        Dr. Y.P. Singh

                                                Assistant Professor,

                                                Govt. Mizoram Law College, Aizawl.

 

          Dr. Y.P Singh emphasised the framework on drug abuse in India citing relevant laws and sections of various Acts, particularly Sec 3(b) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 which defines 'drug' Sec 2(1) of the NDPS Act 1985 which defines a drug addict Sec 2(XIV) of NDPS Act which defines the different kinds of narcotic drug, mainly coca leaf, cannabis, opium, poppy straw, etc. Relevant case laws such as –

 

Vinod Kumar v State of Punjab

Satpal Singh v. State of Punjab

 

These two cases highlighted the effects of drugs in society. Whereas drinking bhang is permitted, narcotics like cocaine, opium, heroin and morphine is prohibited by law. The 2014 Amendment Act to NDPS Act inserted Sec 2(VIIIa) which adopted a new category of 'essential narcotic drugs' Sec 2(XXIII) psychotropic substance Sec 2(VIId) controlled substance.

 

Dr. Y.P. Singh cited Article 47 of the Constitution which gives duty to the state to raise the standard of living and to improve the public health of all people. It is up to the authorities to implement the Acts that are laid down and each department/ministry is responsible for the procedural, safeguards and immunities of quantum of sentences and fines given to convicted felons. Drugs have taken such a deep rooted hold on the society that the NDPS Act under Sec 3/A has allowed the death penalty for certain offences. The Central Government has also set up a national fund for the control of drug abuse which hoped to give some aid to the states.

 

Dr. Y.P. Singh highlighted the Judgment & Order of the Special Court in the case of Lalthuama for possession of pseudoephedrine where he was convicted of 5 years and a 50,000/- fine. Considering the amount of drugs that was seized from him, this was a very light sentence. The statistics of drugs seized between 2014- 2018 is very low but the number of drugs that are out in the streets is presumably very high. This is a matter of serious concern. He concluded his session saying that drug is a money making machine and that enacting law is not enough, implementing and enforcing law is more important.

                                                                                           

TECHNICAL SESSION-III

Theme 3       :        Prevention, control and eradication of drug

abuse and menace.

Chairperson  :        Smt. Marli Vankung, MJS

Secretary, Law & Judicial Department, Mizoram.

Resource person 1: Smt. Laldikkimi,

Director, Social Welfare Department, Mizoram.

 

Smt. Laldikkimi began her session by giving a brief history of substance abuse in Mizoram and some of the initiatives that have been taken. Out of all members of the society, it is children who are affected the most — by the age of 14 years most children are already introduced to alcohol, by 15-16 they experiment with drugs most commonly ganja and by 19 they move on to harder pharmaceutical drugs as they grow older. Keeping this in mind the Social Welfare Department has and is doing all they can to help control this epidemic. Though the Mizoram Drug (Controlled Substance) Act 2016 and 2017 have been in place, we need a new, stricter Act.

 

So, the question comes- How do we move forward? Many initiatives have been suggested and taken including –

 

  • Peer led intervention in High Schools and Higher Secondary Schools.
  • Peer educators introduced in schools.
  • A nodal teacher in each school.
  • Strengthening drug prevention programmes through YMA, Excise

Department, the Church which is very important in Mizoram.

 

The prevention of drugs has to begin from home and de-addiction centres strengthened with equipped suitable counsellors.

Questions and comments were raised where a number of perspectives emerged in the general discussion. Several participants noted the role of legal services in their states. Where there is little support, one has to do the best with what they have. Persons not in school nor employed and in denial are the main problem, according to one participant. The legal services authorities in the form of paralegals and pro bono cases are a big help.

 

One participant stated that to prevent drug abuse, awareness should begin from the ground level and that commercial sex workers using drugs in Manipur have been receiving help from NGO's and para legal volunteers who have opened legal clinics and service camps for them.

 

Another participant from Arunachal Pradesh Shri Budhi Habung informed us all that in their state, women from villages are given training and legal awareness on how to tackle this problem of drugs in their respective localities.

 

The common thinking of all participants was that school students should be given awareness and legal literacy clubs be encouraged at all schools with interaction made available with suitable persons from the legal profession. Para legal volunteers and Panel advocates should set up units in villages to protect and find children of drug abuse.

 

Resource person 2             :        Shri Alok Agarwal,

Member Secretary, NALSA

 

Shri Alok Agarwal listed out three important headings-supply (availability), environment (home, work) and the host (individual). If we have control of this triangle, we will have control of this menace. The question of why people do drugs was raised. From the young to the old, everyone seems to have some sort of vice that they cannot shake. One can only guess why people take drugs-to fill emptiness inside, for pleasure, glamour and due to peer pressure. Stress about school or home, death of a loved one and not being able to cope, poverty, unemployment, work pressure, etc.

 

Counsellors are important for school children, providing a way for children to be able to open up and share their problems. Something needs to be done at the school level and the state needs to provide education and help to children of sex workers. Law students can do their part by spreading awareness. Information and reading materials have to be produced for people to know where they can get help. Former drug abusers who have been rehabilitated and volunteers can set up help groups and centres. Awareness in all forms be set up and campaigns be set up to counter the drug epidemic.

 

At 4:10 p.m., Hon'ble Mr. Justice Shri Ujjal Bhuyan arrives and a short video clip was shown on the effects of drugs in young adults.

 

VALEDICTORY SESSION

Chairperson            :        Smt. Helen Dawngliani. MJS

Secretary, High Court Legal Services Committee.

 

Short Speech :

 

Shri Alok Agarwal, Member Secretary, NALSA was the first to stand up for the short speech and talked on how the Legal Authorities of the state should take further steps in spreading awareness by training paralegal volunteers and law students and organise and get involved in different programmes of rehabilitation.

 

Next, a participant from Haryana stood up and drew everybody's attention on how drugs has spread all over the world and how it had affected young people the most. According to him, emphasis has to be given on the young. He also advised the students to form small groups and have discussion on the topic of drugs as they are the futures of the country.

 

Speech                   :        Hon'ble Shri Justice Ujjal Bhuyan,

                                      Judge, Gauhati High Court &

                                      Executive Chairman, Mizoram SLSA

 

Justice Ujjal Bhuyan took the stage expressing regret over losing the late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and said that the late Prime Minister had a soft spot for the North East. Though the state has declared a day of mourning, so much effort has been taken for the programme that as a tribute to the late Prime Minister, the programme shall go on.

 

It is said that civilization and vices go hand in hand since the very beginning. The British brought the cultivation of opium into our lands which started increase of drug flow affecting people from all walks of life and the most vulnerable are the children. Sections 77 and 78 of the Juvenile Justice Act 2015 have laid down that any person who offers drugs to children be punished with a jail term of seven years and a fine of Rs. l lakh. The Supreme Court of India discovered that there was no forking database on the number of drugs being sold and used and the number of victims. Without such a vital database there is no way of taking measures to combat the issue.

 

Awareness should start at home and teachings should emphasise at school. Our founding fathers have clubbed drugs and poisons together in the 7th Schedule of the Concurrent List making it a responsibility for both the Centre and State. It has been found that where the consumption of liquor is not allowed, drugs and smoking increased.

 

The Times of India on June 26th­­­­­­                            reported that in Mizoram 1321 people had died due to drug overdose, out of which 130 were women. Out of the drugs that were used, proxyvon killed the majority of the people.

 

Justice Ujjal Bhuyan encouraged the Mizoram State Legal Services Authority to start legal campaigns with students and ended the programme by advising everyone to take further initiative in the districts and remote areas of Mizoram. "Let us all be champions and let us be a State of Champions."

 

REPORT ON RALLY ON ‘ERADICATION OF DRUG MENACE

 

The Mizoram State Legal Services Authority in collaboration with Government Mizoram Law College organized rally using a theme ‘Eradication of Drug Menace’ on 18th August, 2018 at 06:30 a.m. from Vanapa Hall to Millennium Centre. A short function was held at Millennium Courtyard in which Mr. Vanlalenmawia, Member Secretary, Mizoram State Legal Services Authority presided over the function. In his speech the Member Secretary addressed that Drug abuse remains the enemy of our country and we should fight together in order to diminish the spread of drug abuse.

 

Hon’ble Mr. Justice Ujjal Bhuyan, Executive Chairman, Mizoram State Legal Services Authority addressed that he hoped the rally would bring a fruitful result. He also encouraged the participants to give an effort to fight against drugs and also to aware others.

 

Shri R. Thanga, MJS, Chairman, District Legal Services Authority, Lunglei Judicial District delivered vote of thanks.

 

In this rally, many important persons from different states including Judges from Gauhati High Court and their officers, Lawyers, Member Secretaries of different States, Students and staff of Government Mizoram Law College, Officers and Staff of Mizoram Legal Services Authority, Officers of Excise and Narcotics Department  and students and teachers from selected 12 Educational Institutions participated. More than 1,000 persons participated in the rally and T-shirts were distributed among them.

 

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