Earlier this week, Actress Rhea Chakraborty was remanded to 14 days judicial custody on an application submitted by Narcotics Control Bureau in a case filed under the NARCOTIC DRUGS AND PSYCHOTROPIC SUBSTANCES Act, alleging that she used to procure drugs for actor Sushant Singh Rajput, who had allegedly committed suicide on June 14, earlier this year. She has been kept under judicial custody for investigation of offences under Section 8(c), 20(b) (ii), 22, 27A, 28, and 29 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act, 1985.
In this article let us try to understand about Narcotics Control Bureau and the Anti-drugs Law in India.
Before 1985, The Statutory control over narcotics drugs was exercised in India through the Opium Act, 1857, the Opium Act, 1878, and the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1930. The provisions of these Acts failed to address new developments in the field of drug traffic and drug abuse at the national and international level, that were coming to surface over time.
The punishment under these Acts was not enough to punish organized gangs of smugglers. These Acts did not give any power of investigation to the officers of the number of important enforcement agencies like Narcotics, Customs, and Central Excise, etc.
Further, the Directive Principle embedded in Article 47 of the Constitution, directs the State to endeavor to bring about prohibition of the consumption, except for medicinal purposes, of intoxicating drugs injurious to health.
The government of India is also, part of the convention on Narcotic Drugs1961, the Convention on Psychotropic substances, 1971, and the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and psychotropic substances, 1988. And finally, a new type of drug addiction came to the surface, known as, psychotropic substances and posed serious problems to the national government.
Hence, to consolidate and to amend the existing laws relating to narcotic drugs a comprehensive legislation was considered to be necessary. Subsequently, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act was passed by the Parliament in the 35th year of the Republic of India.
The Objective of the NDPS Act is as follows:
1. to consolidate and amend the Laws relating to narcotic drugs,
2. to make stringent provisions for the control and regulation of operations relating to narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances.
3. to provide for the forfeiture of property derived from, or used in, illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
4. to implement the provisions of the International Convention on Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and for matters connected therewith.
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AUTHORITIES AND OFFICERS
Section 4 of the Act, gives Central Government the power to take all the measures as it thinks necessary for the purpose of preventing and combating the abuse of narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances and the illicit traffic of them.
Subsequently, Section 5 directs the Central government to appoint a Narcotics Commissioner and other officers (if required) for this Act.
He shall be subject to the general control and direction of the Central Government or any board/ authority/officer as the Government directs. He shall exercise all the powers and perform all the functions relating to the superintendence of the cultivation of the opium poppy and production of opium and shall also exercise and perform such other powers and functions as assigned by the Central Government. State Governments may also appoint officers as it deems fit for the purposes of this Act.
Section 6(1) of the Act, directs the constitution of an advisory body, namely, the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Consultative Committee, by the Central Government to advise the Central government on matters relating to the administration of this Act. The Committee shall consist of A Chairman and a maximum of twenty members. It is given the power to regulate its own procedure and shall meet on the instruction of the Central Government.
OFFENCES AND PENALTIES
The offences and punishments concerning this Act are very widely dealt in Section 15 to 40 of the ct which is contained in Chapter 4. Some of the important provisions of the chapter are explained below:
1) Punishment for the violation of this Act in relation to poppy straw, prepared opium, opium poppy, opium, cannabis plants, cannabis, any manufactured drugs or any psychotropic substance (Contained in Sections 15, 17, 18,20,21,22 of the Act respectively):
Whoever in the contravention of this Act, cultivates opium poppy/cannabis plant or produces, manufactures, possesses, sells, purchases, transports, imports Inter-State, exports Inter-State or uses poppy straw, prepared opium, opium, cannabis, any manufactured drug, any psychotropic substances shall be punishable –
(1) With rigorous imprisonment, the term of which varies from 1 year to 10 years and
(2) With fine which may vary from ten thousand rupees to two lakhs.
2) Punishment for the violation of this Act in relation to coca plant and coca leave (Section 16): Whoever cultivates, transports, imports Inter-State, exports Inter-State, or uses coca leaves shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.
3) (Section 19)When any licensed cultivator of opium poppy embezzles or illegally disposes of the opium produced, shall be punishable –
(1) with rigorous imprisonment for a minimum of ten years and a maximum of twenty years
(2) with a fine of not less than one lakh rupees but not more than two years.
4) Section 23-Whoever imports or exports from India or transships any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance in contravention of the provisions of this Act or any Act or order or any license provided to him shall be punished –
(1) With rigorous imprisonment of the term varying from one year to twenty years depending on the severity of the offence and
(2) With fine which may vary between ten thousand and two lakhs.
5) Section 25- Whoever allows premises etc to be used for the commission of an offence under this Act shall be punished with the punishment provided for that offence.
6) Section 27- Whoever consumes any narcotic drugs or psychotropic substance shall be punishable with imprisonment for a maximum term one year, or with a fine which may extend to twenty thousand rupees or with both.
7) Section 27A- Whoever indulges in the financing, directly or indirectly, any, of the activities barred under this Act or harbors any person engaged in any of such activities, shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than ten years and extend to twenty years and fine of not less than ten thousand but can extend to two lakh rupees.
NATURE OF OFFENCE
Section 37 clearly states that every offence punishable in this Act shall be cognizable and non-bailable.
The Act was criticized for its same treatment of hard and soft drugs. Critics added that this same treatment diverted the traffickers to hard drugs where profits were more and hence, it caused more drug addiction than it claimed to prevent it.
Few suggested that the use of certain drugs should be legalized to reduce heroin addiction.
Further, it was criticized for the provision of the death penalty under Section 31A of the Act to repeated offenders under Section 19, 24,27A, or offences involving the commercial quantity of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substances.
NARCOTICS CONTROL BUREAU
The Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 made an express provision for constituting a Central Authority to exercise the powers and functions of the Central Government under the Act. So, the Government of India constituted the Narcotics Control Bureau on 17th March, 1986. The Bureau is under the supervision and control of the Central Government and exercises the power and function of the Central Government for taking measures concerning the measures provided under the NDPS Act.
This article is written by Rashmi and edited by Rupreet Kaur Dhariwal.
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