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Telangana HC Issues Guidelines To Prevent Drug Abuse In Educational Institutions [Read Judgment]

30 March 2020 11:35 AM GMT
Telangana HC Issues Guidelines To Prevent Drug Abuse In Educational Institutions [Read Judgment]
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Taking note of the growing menace of drug abuse amongst college students, the Telangana High Court has issued a slew of directions for institutes to prevent the same.

A single-Judge bench of Justice Vinod Kumar was hearing an appeal preferred by two students of NIT, Warangal who had been suspended from attending classes for a period of one year apart from imposition of a monetary penalty of Rs. 1 lakh, for having been found intoxicated and in possession of marijuana, at wee hours on college campus.

While the court decided to take a lenient approach towards the Petitioner-students, it went on to insist upon the responsibility of educational institutions under the National Policy on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, for taking steps to curb drug abuse amongst students.

The court held that Institutions, such as the esteemed NITs, should continuously work towards providing resources and support to students in order to curb them from abusing drugs and to rehabilitate the students who are addicted to drugs.

In this backdrop, the court directed:

  • Educational Institutions are encouraged to look out for peddlers in their vicinity and report them to police.
  • Educational Institutions are encouraged to conduct anonymous surveys to assess the levels of drug addiction among their students, and if addicted students can be identified, to talk to their parents or wards to find medical help to cure their addiction.
  • Educational Institutions are encouraged to constitute Anti-Drug Club to promote a drug free life among its members and also in the institution.
  • Educational Institutions are encouraged to have a peer support group to initiate conversations about the negative impacts of drug use on physical and mental health of students.
  • Educational Institutions are encouraged to have medical health professionals like psychiatrists and psychologists at all times.
  • Educational Institutions are encouraged to conduct seminars, talks and classes on drug abuse and illicit trafficking and its socio-economic cost to self, society and the country.
  • Educational Institutions are encouraged to work with local NGO's and students to design a dynamic policy on tackling drug abuse and to hold meetings regularly to adapt to the ever-changing society.
  • To set-up a de-addiction centre within an institute, which facility can be used by two to three such national institutions which are in close proximity to such institute (eg. Neighbouring states), where any students found using such drugs are sent and kept separately thereat, who while undergoing studies can be provided treatment to come out of such drug abuse, which may include meditation, yoga, etc., so that the young students do not lose out on their career under the influence such harmful substances.

It has however been clarified that the above measures are only suggestive and it is open for the institutions to evolve their own policy with regard to dealing with such drug abuse and measures to be implemented.

With regards the case at hand, the court observed that in cases of such breach or aberrations of institutional rules, the courts should exercise restraint and should not interfere in matters of discipline as the same would "send a wrong signal" and may "disturb the entire academic atmosphere".

However, it said, the tender age of the Petitioner-students could not be ignored and there was a calling need to strike a balance between 'the act and the measure'. It said,

"This court is also conscious to the fact that the students who are in tender age with new found freedom and independence after putting in through formative years and being admitted to premiere institute, would find themselves to be in a different zone altogether. The sudden got freedom, surrounded by various distractions and also being vulnerable to involving themselves in unwanted issues, cannot always be purely attributable to one's wilful wrongdoings. Though such acts don't need to be commended, at the same time balance has to be struck between the act and the measure."

Accordingly, expressing strong hope that the petitioners will be moulded in the right path by the concerned authorities, the court ordered that a reformative approach should be adopted in the matter rather than adopting a deterrent/ punitive action.

Case Details:

Case Title: Sameer Abdul Lathif v. State of Telangana & Ors.

Case No.: WP No. 2152/2020 & 2277/2020

Quorum: Justice Vinod Kumar

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