The High Court of Manipur on July 22, 2020 directed the state government to frame rules and regulations for managing private Integrated Rehabilitation Centres for Addicts (IRCA) in the state within three months but the direction is yet to be implemented. In view of it, the High Court has given yet another three months to the state government to do the needful till July 11, 2022.
Based on one public interest litigation (PIL) filed by CONE, the HC gave 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 non-funded private rehabilitation centres in the state of Manipur.
The state of Manipur, which has a population of about 28.5 lakh, has significant proportion of injecting drug users (IDUs) which has been estimated at 34,355 as per the survey conducted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India in the year 2019 and if the other modes of drug use such as oral users, the World is Yours (WY) chasing users and alcohol user are taken into account, the number of drug users would triple up. But there are not enough drug rehabilitation centres in the state which are under the direct administration of the government.
According to the CONE, 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.
However, the PIL by CONE expressed anxiety that there are privately run detoxification centres without proper government control or guidelines which need to be properly monitored.
It stated that there are about 54 private or self-drug rehabilitation centres in the state which are not under the purview of the state government and they were neither funded by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India nor monitored by the state government. 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 human rights of the drug users have been reported. The incidents include causing the death of inmates of these rehabilitation centres."
Since 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 providing proper treatment and helping them get rid of the addiction. Such centres do not have adequate skilled or trained employees and medical personnel, and unscientific methods are used in rehabilitation centres.
On that PIL proceeding, the advocate general 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.
In that letter, the director 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 social welfare department.
The IRCA would provide composite or 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.
However, 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 or agency, has been mushrooming in the state. There are increasing reports of cases and complaints of human rights violation and unwanted incidents happening in these centres.
It is pertinent to state that there is an urgent need for government intervention to regulate and monitor these private de-addiction or drug rehabilitation centres, added the director in the letter.
It may be mentioned 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 of 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 service delivery, the state government may consider to issue an office memorandum to get every de-addiction centre registered under the Social Welfare Department and ensure they 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 for setting up of De-Addiction and Rehabilitation Centres in the state are properly framed, stated the director in the letter.
With respect to the letter submitted by the director, the Manipur High Court stated that the authorities are pursuing the measures to frame the rules and regulations for managing private IRCAs in the state. So, the High Court directed the concerned authorities to do expeditiously and take necessary action in terms of the regulation that is to be framed.
The High Court also directed the government to frame the regulation within a period of three months to ensure proper steps are taken to alleviate the grievance of drug addicts and all forms of substance abuse.
Thereafter, CONE filed a contempt case of 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. Stating that giving six more months to frame the guidelines is not proper, the court gave three more months’ time on April 11, to do the needful.
The Manipur High Court stated that the state government is waging a war on drugs menace. The officials are conducting a crackdown on drugs trafficking and those who supply drugs in the state, but more stringent and effective measures need to be taken for effective rehabilitation of drug addicts in the state, so that both sides of the problem are addressed.
While conducting the proceeding before the High Court, CONE counsel added for submitting a fresh representation to the authorities, setting out all the issues required to be addressed while framing the guidelines for rehabilitation centres in the state.