On August 29, 1985, Janardhana Poojary, the then minister of state for finance , introduced the NDPS Bill in the Rajya Sabha. As a signatory to the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, India was obligated to introduce strong legislation to control the manufacture, supply and consumption of drugs, and discontinue its traditional use of cannabis for anything apart from medical and scientific purposes. This had to be done within 25 years of signing the convention.
India’s colonial-era drug laws were decentralised. The British central government was empowered to control opium and other narcotic drugs under the Opium Act, 1857; the Opium Act, 1878; and the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1930. Control over cannabis in various forms and its by-products was left to state governments, which exercised their own laws.
The NDPS Bill proposed rigorous imprisonment for 10 years extending to 20 years and a minimum fine of Rs 1 lakh extending to Rs 2 lakh as a minimum punishment for drug offences. It proposed to treat drug abusers and drug addicts differently, prescribing a year’s imprisonment or fine or both for consuming or possessing “hard drugs” like cocaine, morphine or heroin and six months’ imprisonment or fine or both for offences relating to other narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
The Bill also empowered judges to release addicts convicted for consuming or possessing drugs in small quantities on probation to undergo de-addiction.
In Parliament, Poojary told legislators, “With the considerable increase in illicit drug traffic and drug abuse situation at the national and international levels over the years, many deficiencies in the existing laws have come to notice.” The major deficiencies, Poojary said, were a lack of effective control on psychotropic substances (the new drugs of abuse at the time) and low levels of punishments for offences.
In the first three years of the law’s existence, most punishments were awarded in cases where the police had seized two grams, five grams and 10 grams of drugs.
The latest changes the government proposes to make to the Act could see the possession of small quantities of drugs for personal consumption being decriminalised. The NDPS Act places the burden of proof upon a defendant to demonstrate that a small quantity of a drug in her possession is meant for her personal consumption. The ministry of social justice and empowerment recommended replacing the punishment for consuming a drug under Section 27 from one year imprisonment or fine of Rs 20,000 or both with mandatory 30-day rehabilitation and counselling.
In two of the high-profile cases of the past year, the NCB had booked actor Rhea Chakraborty and Aryan Khan, the 23-year-old son of actor Shah Rukh Khan under Section 27 even though no drugs were found in their possession!
Unfortunately a Psychiatrist spent 7-8 months in prison some years back for dispensing Buprenorphine which was highly traumatising.
In addition, many medicines used for Deaddiction are not easily available in a State like Punjab so it becomes well nigh impossible to treat someone who doesn’t tolerate Buprenorphine.
Do frame questions and send in advance to Dr Rupinder and Dr Sandeep Goyal.
And attend this webinar.
Dr BK Waraich , Chairperson
Dr Rupinder Kapoor, Advisor,
Dr Sandeep Goyal, EC Coordinator ,
Dr Satish Rasailly, Convenor
IPS NDPS Act Task force committee.