Understanding the judicial response to juvenile drug abuse

Abstract

This research delves into the escalating issue of drug abuse among juveniles in India, scrutinizing the multifaceted dimensions and exploring the evolving role of the judiciary. Grounded in the wisdom of leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr. APJ Kalam, who emphasized nurturing the future of the nation, the study unveils the disconcerting reality that the backbone of the country, its youth, is increasingly succumbing to harmful substances.

Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach, the research method encompasses an extensive literature review of legal documents and primary and secondary sources. The term “drug” is defined comprehensively, encompassing various forms and methods of consumption. The study classifies juveniles under the age of 18, as per the Juvenile Justice Act.

A taxonomy of drug abuse is presented, including stimulant abuse, cocaine abuse, Adderall abuse, meth abuse, opioid abuse, and heroin abuse. The research then investigates the causes of the surge in juvenile drug abuse, emphasizing factors such as lack of education, absence of guidance, broken families, and the innate eagerness of the adolescent mind.

The impacts of drug abuse on juveniles are delineated, covering deteriorating health, educational setbacks, increased crime rates, strained family relationships, and the broader implications for the country’s growth. The research also scrutinizes India’s historical and contemporary drug policies, tracing the trajectory from colonial times to the present Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985.

The Juvenile Justice System in India is dissected, and key cases, including Gopalanachari Makkapati v. State of Andhra Pradesh and Salil Bali v. Union of India, are highlighted. While acknowledging the positive strides made by the Juvenile Justice Act 2015, the study elucidates its limitations, such as infrastructure challenges, delays in case disposal, and a lack of focus on root causes.

In conclusion, the research advocates for a more scientific age identification process, a targeted approach to eliminate root causes, efficient implementation, and provisions for children with special needs within the legislative framework. It underscores the importance of continuous monitoring and highlights the positive impact of collaborative efforts by state governments and social organizations to improve juvenile homes.

The research contends that while the Juvenile Justice Act is a step in the right direction, it necessitates ongoing refinement to fortify its effectiveness. By addressing the identified gaps and incorporating the recommended enhancements, the act can further ensure the protection of juvenile rights, fostering positive reform and rehabilitation rather than punitive measures.

Keywords- Drug, justice, juveniles, causes, effects, drug abuse, India, recommendations

Introduction 

To start I would begin with the quotes of some great personalities such as Jawaharlal Nehru, he said Children are like buds in a garden and should be carefully and lovingly nurtured, as they are the future of the nation and citizens of tomorrow. Dr. APJ Kalam said that children are the future bone to the country. They all said the right thing but these days the future bone or the backbone of our country is becoming weak or not capable enough to support our country in the long term as they are more inclined or becoming more inclined towards harmful substances such as alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana and other narcotics drugs. It is not a new phenomenon, rather it is so ancient that it finds its roots in some of the religions and cultures, but it was only limited to a particular community or had only a limited arena and it was not widespread as it is today and also not created a havoc at that time by destroying the future of juveniles as it is creating today . In India the greater addiction towards drugs is of greater concern. In India the addiction towards the above-mentioned items such as alcohol, cigarettes etc.  among the high school students stands at 12.05% which can be further bifurcated into 15.1 for urban students and 10.7 for rural students. In India there many concerns and the growing population is the most grave among them as the most of this population lives in slums and the most cases related to drug abuse among juveniles are present there only. There are more factors which contribute to the growth of addiction towards drug which will be further discussed in this paper. 

Research Methodology

The Drug abuse among juveniles and the role of judiciary in India is examined in this study using an interdisciplinary approach. The some of the main aim includes a deep analysis of presence and the trends of juvenile drug, what factors are contributing to that, its impact on the life of individuals, what are some of the rules and regulations present today to deal with this, challenges and the gaps in the judiciary to deal with problem. Data collection methods encircle a thorough and deep literature review of legal documents and primary and the secondary sources.

Meaning 

The word “Drug” refers to any chemical substance or particle that when consumed causes a change in an organism’s physiology, psychology. It can be in any form such as solid, powder, liquid, odour, smoke etc. It can be taken in any form such as – if it is in liquid form then it can be injected in the body through the use of a syringe, if it is in a gaseous or odour form then it can be consumed by inhaling it or smelling it and if it is in solid form then the most commonly used practice is that,  it is kept under the tongue by an individual consuming it. Drugs either are produced through medicinal plants or are manufactured artificially either by man or machine.

The word juvenile in India as mentioned in Juvenile Justice act refers to every child who has not completed the age of 18 years.

Types of Drug Abuses 

There are some types of drug abuses to name a few they are;

  • Stimulant Abuse – It refers to using a stimulant which is a substance that causes a boost in physical and mental process of an individual. To name a few stimulants – Meth, Ritalin, Concerta, Dexedrine etc.
  • Cocaine Abuse – It is the most popular drug in USA, it is derived from the coca plant and causes a significant boost in energy of an individual consuming it for about 20 minutes, then the effect of that reduces.
  • Adderall Abuse – This drug is used to treat lack of treatment or hyperactivity disorder. When taken on the advice of doctor it can help an individual but if it is taken excessively it can lead to serious complications such as boost in energy which can cause a heart attack.
  • Meth Abuse – An individual consuming this can experience great level of excitement or great level of depression and this up and down can also be permanent.
  • Opioid Abuse – It is a drug which can cause the failure of some of the vital organs of our body like heart, liver etc, respiratory problems. This drug is responsible for a number of deaths that are preventable.
  • Herion Abuse – It is consumed by an individual to relieve his or her stress level that can be both mental and physical. It can be consumed in two ways i.e. it can be either smoked or injected in the body through a syringe. If it is made to enter the human body through the use of syringe it can cause a significant damage to the veins and the person can become a victim of serious diseases like HIV, Hepatitis.

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Cause of Growth in Drug Abuse Among Juveniles 

As the mind of a young person (15 – 18) normally likes everything. He/ She wants to achieve all the pleasures of life within a short period of time. They only just copy or want to copy their parents without even thinking whether it is beneficial or harmful for them physically or mentally. For e.g. A family is there and, in that family, the father smokes daily then it’s obvious that the child of that man will also be attracted towards smoking thinking that if his/her father is doing that thing then its right. Sometimes the children of the above-mentioned age group also rely on some bad practices such as stealing money to fulfil their drug needs. Following are some of the major factors contributing towards the drug addiction among juveniles.

  • Lack Of Education – Most cases of drug abuses are reported from slums because most of the people living there are those who earn on a daily basis and that to the income, they earn is not even enough to provide them food two times a day. In the slums basic amenities like getting food two times a day, getting a safe and hygienic water to drink, sanitation facilities are considered a luxury, and the education is not even considered as a priority. However, different governments have made efforts to provide free basic education the slum children but all in vain as the Childrens of slum dwellers are more willing to help their parents in earning rather than going to school. Thus, due to lack awareness they do not understand what the consequences will be if they harmful drugs and it’s too late when they realise the consequences as till then they have made a significant damage to themselves.
  • Lack of guidance – As most of the slum dwellers are daily wage workers which means if they do will not go for work for single day then it will be difficult for them to arrange the meal for themselves as well as their children. So, the parents have no time to sit and talk with their children or spend quality time with them. On the top of it a mind of a young person is so wandering in nature that it cannot understand itself what is right or wrong, it needs a guidance from someone who is experienced. All this led to the slum children living a lonely life, life with no goals which makes them feel depressed and to achieve short term relief from this pain, stress, distress they rely on drugs. 
  • Family – Mc Dougall says that the stability of the family is the prime condition of a healthy state of the society and the stability of every community”. Broken family means both the parents are missing or absent or away from home due to death or divorce or other matrimonial problem. In broken families, the children will affect physically and psychologically. They live alone and sometimes they are facing stepmother torture. Death of the father makes the child so delinquent in behaviour and stepfather was almost fatal for the girl. 29.8 percentages of delinquency start because of step farther. All the misbehaviour of parents give room to the children to do an illegal act.
  • Eagerness – As the mind of a child is like a plant which needs constant watering or else it will not grow many children consume drugs as an experiment and they find drugs be a substance that can gives them relief from stress and thus become habitual towards them.

Impact of Drug Abuse on Juveniles 

Some of the major negative aspects of drug consumption by juveniles are listed below:

  • Deteriorating Health – The increased usage of drug has led to an increase in diseases like HIV and AIDs because there are certain types of drugs that can be consumed only by injecting in our body. So sometimes a group of friends use the same needle or syringe to inject the drugs in their body and exposing them to greater risk of blood transmitting diseases. Some serious complications are like major health issues such as nausea, damage to the brain, different heart diseases, liver problems etc.
  • Impact On Education- Drug consumption is also sometimes related with a decline in the academic performance of a person consuming it. Consumption of drug causes lack of attendance among the children, the lack of concentration. This can lead to limited educational growth and thus resulting in limited future prospects and opportunities.
  •  Increased crime – Drug consumption not only has a negative impact on the person consuming it but also on the society as a whole. Firstly, the person consuming drug is so much immersed in that if he is given a choice between food and drug then he will definitely choose drug. To satisfy his/her drug needs, he will do whatever it takes to purchase that drug and it can include killing people for petty amounts or robbing someone. 
  • Impacts Relationship with family- Drug consumption leads to a strained relationship with family and friends, individuals can experience isolation or conflicts with the family members, individual will prefer less socialisation. To decrease this depression, they continue drug consumption.
  • Lessen the growth of a country- If the young population of a country is addicted to drugs, then it reduces the growth of a country as the young population who in near future were going to become a future workforce are dependent more on drugs, they are not having education, they are incapable of doing some physical works as there body will not allow to do it as it has become weak, more amount will be spend upon the rehabilitation of juveniles, increased pressure on healthcare system.

Drug Policy within India 

History

In India opium is cultivated since a long time i.e. 10th century. When the britishers were present in our country they passed two acts in the years 1867 and 1878 to control to cultivation of opium by farmers and to curb its production but which was not meant for consumption. It was only during the early 19th century that due to the pressure of nationalist movement taking place in India, many state government started to put some restrictions on the consumption of opium. An act was passed namely Dangerous Drug Act. The main aim of the enactment of this act was to curb the sowing of drugs, its production, possession, its trade. However, this act was only limited to those drugs which were derived from plants and to name a few of them- coca from which cocaine is derived, hemp, poppy etc. To make this effective and efficient there was a system of licensing and there were penalties and fines for non-licensed activities. 

Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985 

Indian Constitution states that “The State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injurious to health,”. India is also a part of three convention of the United Nations related to drug use (1961 Single convention on Narcotics Drugs, 1971 convention on Psychotropic Substances and last 1988 Convention against Illicit traffic in NDPS). 

India passed NDPS act and this act prohibits a person “the production or manufacturing or cultivation, possession, sale, purchasing, transport, storage, and/or consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance”. This act applies to all the citizens irrespective of the fact either they are living in India or outside India. 

Juvenile Justice System 

To understand this, we have to go to the past, this started in India during British Rule. Juvenile Justice means a system which focuses on the principle based on the overall welfare of the child. In India it is designed in such a way that it provides due care, protection and most important rehabilitation rather giving severe punishment to the juveniles who are in conflict with the laws. Juvenile Justice Act 2015 replaced the previous Juvenile justice Act of 2000.The enactment of new law made India to achieve the international standards and helped India to fulfil the gaps that were present in the previous laws. 

Prominent Cases 

There have been numerous cases that have helped in developing and shaping a better justice system for children who are in conflict with the laws and some of them are listed below:

  • Gopalanachari Makkapati v. State of Andhra Pradesh – In this case the Supreme Court allowed that the punishment should be given to the juvenile who was in conflict with the law. The apex court stated that the objective of Juvenile Justice Act 1986 was to bring a change in that juvenile who was in conflict with the law and the punishment given to him should also achieve this purpose. The court also said that juvenile justice board should consider all the facts such as the age of that child, his/her overall behaviour and the circumstances in which the crime took place while deciding what punishment should be given to that juvenile. 
  •  Salil Bali v. Union of India- In this case basically it was held by the Supreme Court that it is right of the juvenile to be provided with legal assistance at every stage of legal process
  • Jitendra Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh- In this case it was held by the court that the identification of the age of an accused should be through a medical process, and it should be done on a priority basis to ensure that the accused is treated according to the laws for juveniles.  
  • International Association of Human Rights v. State of Bihar- This case basically focused on the poor conditions of juvenile homes in Bihar. In this case the Supreme Court directed the state government of that time to improve the infrastructure, the house should be equipped with basic facilities and to ensure that they have improved living conditions. The apex court also ordered the state government to provide all the basic need which includes hygienic food, safe water, clothing, electricity etc. In the juvenile homes. 
  • Jarnail Singh v. State of Haryana- In this case court held that the provisions of the juvenile justice act for the determination of the age through a medical process should be applied equally on both the parties i.e. the victim and the accused.

Limitations of Juvenile Justice Act 2015 

There is no doubt that this present act has improved the overall efficiency of the judicial system and helped in increasing overall effectiveness of the judiciary. But everything that is present in this society has some flaws, shortcoming also and some of the limitations of this act are mentioned below:

  • Availability of Infrastructure – One of the major hurdles this act faces in its more effective implementation is the availability of infrastructure and resources however this problem is less prevalent in urban areas but more in rural areas. Some states are not equipped with basic necessities that are required for the living and rehabilitation of the children. Even if some states have them but they are not adequate. 
  • Delay in cases – In spite of the fact that there are provisions for speedy disposal of cases, in reality the disposal of cases takes a lot of time. This leads to the children being in the custody or detention for a long period of time and this hampers their rehabilitation, reintegration into the society.
  • Lack Of focus on root cause – While the policies that are present only focus on providing less severe punishment, rehabilitation, helping the juveniles overcome social stigma. They do not focus on the root cause of drug abuse as mentioned in the previous pages such as poverty, lack of schooling etc.
  • Lack of similarity- The task of making a law has been done, now comes the most important part of that law, which is its implementation. Certain states differ from other states as some have better infrastructure to deal with the children who are in conflict with the law as compared to others.

Recommendations 

While the Juvenile justice act was a much-needed legislation in India, however everything has a scope for improvement and some of the improvement that I would recommend are below:

  • According to me the age identification process should be more scientific which will increase its reliability as the current method in practice which involves the use of marksheets and birth certificates to know the real age of a person is unreliable and sometimes it is used to misguide the investigating authorities. 
  •  The legislation should focus more on eliminating the root cause of drug abuse as if there are no such factors present in our society then there will be no need of such legislations.
  • The act should be implemented more efficiently, and it has to be ensured that it is regularly monitored to achieve the desired outcome. All the state governments should ensure that in their respective state adequate infrastructure and resources are present to deal with the children who are in conflict with law.
  • There should be separate provisions for Childrens with special need 

To say in few words this act is step taken which is in the right direction and this ensures that the rights of the children who are in conflict with law are protected, and they are treated in such a way that brings a change or reform in the child. However, there is a long way ahead and the above-mentioned points if are taken into considerations then it will lead to strengthen this act.

Conclusion 

The above-mentioned system an important step which ensures the protection of rights of the underage children who are in conflict with the law. The main aim of the enactment of this act was to bring an overall change, changing the personality, restoration of the child without any harsh punishment. The juvenile justice act 2015 is an important act that ensures the safe keeping, healing, security of the children who are in conflict with the law. This act also provides a systematic manner and creates a legal framework within which a child in conflict with law should be dealt. However, there are certain limitations present that creates a hurdle in its effective implementation. The age determination process in practice is also unreliable. However, even after these hurdles there are some positive developments in the juvenile justice system in period. All the state governments and different social organisation are working relentlessly day and night to improve the present conditions of juvenile homes in India and there has been significant improvement also but there is a long way ahead. To sum up, I would like to say that there is some work left to make this act more effective. To end I like to conclude with a quote “Addiction Steals some of the most beautiful souls”

Citations 

  1. Wion, (Nov. 08, 2023, 11:04 PM), https://www.wionews.com/photos/childrens-day-children-are-the-future-of-the-nation-the-citizens-of-tomorrow-said-jawaharlal-nehru-550.
  2. Wikipedia, (Nov. 08, 2023,12:54 AM), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug.
  3. Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of children) Act,2015, (India).
  4. EARL SNLLENGER, “JUVENILE DELINQUENCY A PRODUCT OF THE HOME”.
  5. Dangerous Drugs Act, (Act No. 2 of 1930), 1930.
  6. INDIA CONST. Art.  47. 
  7. Narcotics Drug and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. 
  8. Gopalanachari Makkapati v. State of Andhra Pradesh, (1981) 2 S.C.C. 507 (India).
  9. Salil Bali v. Union of India, (2013) 6 S.C.C. 770 (India).
  10. Jitendra Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, (2013) 14 S.C.C. 632 (India).
  11. International Association of Human Rights v. State of Bihar, (2013) 13 S.C.C. 406 (India).
  12. Jarnail Singh v. State of Haryana, (2021) 4 S.C.C 369 (India).

Akshay Pratap Singh

Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, IP university