While the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act is invoked in cases of drug abuse, the law does not have provisions to deal with misuse of substances such as whiteners, glue, or cough syrup.

The city police are seeking prohibition on the sale of whiteners in the district. The move is part of the police’s attempt at curbing drug use among school students.

In an application before the Sub-Divisional Magistrate court, the police requested that the sale of whiteners be prohibited or regulated.

“Misuse of whiteners by students is rampant here. We estimate that about 25 per cent of whiteners sold are misused by students to get high. This is why we have sought a tentative prohibition under Section 133 (1)(b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure,” said Narcotics Cell Assistant Commissioner P.M. Joseph Saju. Under the section, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate on receiving a report from the police has the right to conditionally prohibit or regulate goods that are injurious to the health of the community.

While the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act is invoked in cases of drug abuse, the law does not have provisions to deal with misuse of substances such as whiteners, glue, or cough syrup.

“The Act contains a list of substances that come under narcotics or psychotropic substances. The Act punishes persons who use those substances or items notified by the government,” said Additional Public Prosecutor George Mathew Muricken.

The police, however, are worried about the misuse of whiteners and other substances that induce an intoxicating effect. “Children get hooked on to whiteners first and then graduate to cough syrups, ganja and higher drugs. Controlling the use of whiteners is crucial in curbing the drug habit,” said Mr. Saju.

Legal experts are also concerned about the inconvenience the ban may cause to the public. “Whiteners are commonly used at offices here and everywhere else in the world, including in legal and government offices. While the police’s concern is understandable, a ban might be impractical,” said an advocate in the city. He noted, however, that the conditional ban had previously been imposed in several parts of the country by Sub-Divisional Magistrates of the region. The bans were all imposed following serious concern over the misuse of correction fluid by students and others.

The police are hoping that some kind of legal prohibition would enable them to curb the misuse of whiteners by students. The court has posted the police’s application for hearing at a later date.

The action is part of the police’s ‘Safe Campus, Clean Campus’ drive. The police have formed special operation groups to tackle the menace of drug use in schools and colleges.

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