The Manipur High Court directed the state to frame regulations for managing private Integrated Rehabilitation Centres for Addicts (IRCA) within a period of three months to ensure proper steps are taken to alleviate the grievance of the drug addicts.
The directive was issued in response to a PIL filed by CONE seeking contempt against the state for failing to comply with the direction of the same court issued on July 22, 2020.
CONE in the petition said the HC has given the direction in 2020 wherein CONE prayed to bring all the non-funded private Rehabilitation centres under the purview of the state government and directed them to frame specific minimum standard rules or guidelines to be followed by the non-funded private rehabilitation centres in the state of Manipur.
As per the survey conducted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in 2019, Manipur has got a significant proportion of injecting drug users (IDUs) estimated at 34,355 of the total population of over 28 lakh and if the other modes of drug use such as oral users, WY chasing users and alcohol user are taken into account, the number of drug users would be tripled up. But there are not enough drug rehabilitation centres in the state which are under the direct administration of the government.
CONE pointed out that there are 21 Integrated Rehabilitation Centres for Addicts (IRCAs) in the state which are state-funded and sponsored by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India.
On the contrary, there are around 54 private run detoxification centres without proper government control or guidelines which need to be properly monitored, it stated. And as such in the absence of a general/basic protocol and guidelines meant to be followed by these private rehabilitation centres, many unwanted incidents, violating the human rights of the drug users have occurred, even causing the death of the inmates of these rehabilitation centres, it claimed.
Since the private rehabilitation centres do not have a common guideline or a monitoring body, each one functions in an arbitrary manner and it leads to instances of human rights violation. Besides, these centres are run in an unhygienic manner without proper sanitation. In the name of rehabilitation, the drug addicts are put to great hardships instead of being cured.
In response, the Advocate General (AG) submitted that the Social Welfare Department director has sent a letter to the Principal Secretary of Social Welfare Department, Imphal to take steps regarding the PIL.
Based on the letter, the stated that there are 20 Integrated Rehabilitation Centres (IRCAs) in the state funded by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, government of India under the Scheme of Assistance for Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drugs) Abuse and Social Defence Services. These Centres are monitored by the department.
The IRCA would provide composite/ Integrated Services for the rehabilitation of the Substance Dependant persons following the guidelines for the Scheme and the prescribed Minimum Standards of Services for the Programmes under the Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drug) Abuse 2009 under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, government of India.
Whereas, it has become a growing problem that many so-called private De-Addiction Centres which are not under the purview of the government or neither funded by the Ministry nor monitored by any department/agency, has been mushrooming up in the state with reported cases and complaints of Human Rights Violation and unwanted incidents happening in these centres.
It may be mentioned here that the state government is in the process of formulation of a Manipur State Drug Policy which will define the minimum standard of services for setting up a De-Addiction Centre in the state.
However, considering the urgency of the government intervention to regulate and monitor these private centres to ensure effective services delivery, the state government may consider to issue an office memorandum to get every De-addiction Centre registered under the Social Welfare Department and follow the guidelines and minimum standards services for the programme prescribed by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, government of India under the scheme until a state specific guidelines are developed for setting up of De-Addiction and Rehabilitation Centres in the state, said the AG based on the letter.
The HC stated that the authorities are pursuing the measures to frame the rules and regulations for managing private IRCAs in the state. As such, the court directed the state to expeditiously and take necessary action in terms of the regulation that is to be framed.
The present directive is a fallout of CONE’s previous petition for not framing the rules and regulation for private de-addiction centres operating in the state, in terms of Manipur State Policy on Psychoactive Substances, 2019.
During the contempt case proceeding, the social welfare director sought six months’ time to frame specific guidelines for private de-addiction centres operating in the state. While giving six more months to frame is not proper the HC stated and gave three months time on April 11, to do needful.
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The HC stated that the state government is waging war on those who supply drugs in the state but at the same time, effective measures need to be taken to rehabilitate drug addicts so that both sides of the problem are addressed.
While conducting the proceeding before the HC, CONE counsel added for submitting a fresh representation to the authorities, setting out all the issues that require to be addressed while framing the guidelines.