The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 is a central
legislation to regulate production, consumption and transportation of such
harmful substances as specified under the Act. It was enacted with the view to
direct the population away from the illicit substances that arecapable of
hampering the physical well-being of an individual.
It extends to the whole of India, along with areas outside India to all citizens
beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the country or individuals on ships or
aircrafts registered in India. The legislation has provided exhaustive
definitions of all the important terms under the scope of the Act. It has laid
emphasis on the Central Government's authority over the provisions of the Act
and how much powers they possess to enforce the legislation.
The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act), 1985
with the intent of controlling drug abuse and prohibiting the use, distribution,
manufacture, and trade of drugs. Narcotic drugs are those that induce sleep,
whereas psychotropic substances are those that react with the mind and change it
positively. The Parliament of India passed the NDPS Act on 14 November 1985.
These types of drugs have their place in the practice of medicine. Consequently,
the Act includes provisions for the cultivation of cannabis, poppy, and coca
plants as well as the manufacturing of psychotropic substances in connection
with the cultivation of these plants.
Its primary objective is to regulate the manufacturing, possession, sale, and
transportation of drugs that are considered narcotics or psychotropics. As a
result of this act, 200 psychotropic substances are prohibited from sale to
walk-in customers. Prescriptions are required to obtain these drugs. There have
been multiple amendments to the law since it was established.
Additionally, NDPS does not differentiate between drug users, drug dealers, and
hard-core criminals involved in this trade. An individual is prohibited from
manufacturing, producing, cultivating, possessing, selling, purchasing,
transporting, warehousing or consuming any drug appropriate authorities. This
article, thus, tries to highlight the provisions of the NDPS Act.
Quantity & Punishment
||Maximum of 6 months rigorous imprisonment or
a fine up to Rs. 10,000 or both.
||Rigorous imprisonment from 10 years (min.) to
20 years (max.) & a fine from Rs. 1 Lakh to 2 Lakhs.
NDPS Act : Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 -
OFFENCES AND PENALITIES UNDER THE ACT:
CHAPTER IV, that is from Section 15 to 40, provides for various offences and
punishments under the Act. It has identified certain activities that are against
the acceptable social norms which have been included in the category of offences
in the Act. These activities are forbidden by law due to the effect it causes to
the physical health of an individual. These substances have the potential to
damage the mental abilities of an individual as well. Even if it relieves the
person of any suffering for a short while, its side effects are on the display
in the long run.
Section 15: Punishment for contravention in relation to poppy straw.
Section 15 of the Act provides for the act of production, possession,
transportation, selling, purchasing or any other involvement that shall lead to
an offence under the provisions of this Section. The punishments have been
decided on the basis of the quantity of poppy straw involved in the whole
Section 16: Punishment for contravention in relation to coca plant and coca
||Ten years to Twenty years
||Rs 100,000 - Rs 200,000
|Rigorous Imprisonment + Fine
Section 16 of the Act provides for the provisions in contravention of the rules
made under the Act regarding the cultivation, production, possession, selling,
purchasing, transportation and any other activity with respect to the violation
of the provisions of this Act.
The punishment for the offence under the Section includes rigorous imprisonment
up to a term of ten years along with a fine extending up to one lakh rupees.
Section 17: Punishment for contravention in relation to prepared opium.
Section 17 of the Act provides for the provisions dealing with activities in
violation of the Act with respect to prepared opium. This Section bars the
process of manufacturing, possession, selling, purchasing, transportation or
usage of prepared opium. It has been identified as a substance with the capacity
to harm an individual, physically or mentally with its ingredients. The
punishments for either of the restricted activities carried out by an individual
are similar to that of poppy straw, listed under Section 15.
Section 18: Punishment for contravention in relation to opium poppy and opium.
Section 18 of the Act provides for the process of manufacturing, purchasing,
production, possession, transportation or selling of opium poppy and opium as an
act being in contravention of the provisions under this Act.
Section 19: Punishment for embezzlement of opium by cultivator.
||Rs 100,000 - 200,000
|Rigorous Imprisonment + Fine
Section 19 of the Act provides for an act identified as embezzlement of opium,
which is in violation of the provisions under the Act and hence, an offence
characterized under Chapter IV. Any person who embezzles, himself or involved in
the activity, or otherwise illegally disposes off the opium shall be held liable
under this Section. The punishment for this offence includes rigorous
imprisonment of a term not less than ten years with an extension of up to twenty
years along with a fine, not being less than one lakh rupees but can be
increased up to two lakh rupees.
Section 20: Punishment for contravention in relation to cannabis plant and
Section 20 of the Act provides for the offence relating to the process of
cultivation, production, manufacturing, possession, selling, purchasing or
transportation of cannabis plant and cannabis. In case a person is caught
cultivating cannabis, he/she stands punishable with rigorous imprisonment of a
term extending up to ten years along with a fine which can be up to one lakh
rupees. For any other act other than cultivation, the punishments are divided on
the intensity/quantity of the object. The three punishments included in all the
other Sections are followed in this Section as well.
Section 21: Punishment for contravention in relation to manufactured drugs and
Section 21 of the Act provides for an offence of manufacturing, possession,
selling, purchasing, transportation, or usage of any manufactured drug or its
preparation as an act in contravention of the provisions under the Act.
Section 25A: Punishment for contravention of orders made under Section 9A.
||Rs 100,000 - 200,000
|Rigorous Imprisonment + Fine
If any person contravenes an order made under Section 9A, he shall be punishable
with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years and shall
also be liable to fine which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to
fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.
Section 27: Punishment for consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic
Section 27 of the Act provides for the act of consuming any narcotic drugs and
psychotropic substances which is an offence for the purpose of the Act. Any
person consuming substances such as morphine, cocaine, diacetyl-morphine and any
other drug later specified as one by the central government under a notification
shall lead to rigorous imprisonment for a term extending up to one year or fine
up to twenty thousand rupees, or both.
Any narcotic drug or a psychotropic substance, other than those included in the
list, shall lead to imprisonment up to six months or fine up to ten thousand
rupees, or both.
Section 27A: Punishment for financing illicit traffic and harbouring offenders.
Section 27A of the Act provides for the offence of financing illicit trafficking
and harbouring offenders in contravention of the provisions of the Act. Any
person, financing or harbouring, directly or indirectly, any illicit acts of
trafficking, may arise criminal liability against himself. The punishment for
the offence shall be imprisonment of not less than ten years but extending up to
twenty years and a fine of not less than one lakh rupees which can be increased
up to two lakh rupees.
Section 30: Preparation.
If any person makes preparation to do or omits to do anything which constitutes
an offence punishable under any of the provisions of 1 [Sections 19, 24 and 27A
and for offences involving commercial quantity of any narcotic drug or
psychotropic substance and from the circumstances of the case] it may be
reasonably inferred that he was determined to carry out his intention to commit
the offence but had been prevented by circumstances independent of his will, he
shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be
less than one-half of the minimum term (if any), but which may extend to
one-half of the maximum term, of imprisonment with which he would have been
punishable in the event of his having committed such offence, and also with fine
which shall not be less than one-half of the minimum amount (if any), of fine
with which he would have been punishable, but which may extend to one-half of
the maximum amount of fine with which he would have ordinarily (that is to say
in the absence of special reasons) been punishable, in the event aforesaid:
Provided that the court may, for reasons to be recorded in the Judgment, impose
a higher fine.
Section 31A: Death Penalty for certain offences after previous conviction.
- Notwithstanding anything contained in Section 31, if any person who has
been convicted of the commission of, or attempt to commit, or abetment of,
or criminal conspiracy to commit, any of the offences punishable under 8
[Section 19, Section 24, Section 27A and for offences involving commercial
quantity of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance, is subsequently
convicted of the commission of, or attempt to commit, or abetment of, or
criminal conspiracy to commit, an offence relating to:
- engaging in the production, manufacture, possession, transportation,
import into India, export from India or transhipment, of the narcotic drugs
or psychotropic substances specified under column (1) of the Table below and
involving the quantity which is equal to or more than the quantity indicated
against each such drug or substance, as specified in column (2) of the said
|Particulars of narcotic
|(viii) Any mixture with or without any
neutral material of any of the above drugs
||[lesser of the quantity between the
quantities given against the respective narcotic drugs or
psychotropic substances mentioned above forming part of the mixture]
|(ix) LSD, LSD-25 (+) � N, N-Diethyllysergamide (d-lysergic
|(x) THC (Tetrahydrocannabinols, the
following Isomers: 6a (10a), 6a (7),7,8,9,10,9 (11) and their
|(xiv) Salts and preparations of the
psychotropic substances mentioned in (ix) to (xiii)
Google source: A1985-61.pdf (legislative.gov.in)
(b) financing, directly or indirectly, any of the activities specified in clause
(a), [shall be punished with punishment which shall not be less than the
punishment specified in Section 31 or with death].
(2) Where any person is convicted by a competent court of criminal jurisdiction
outside India under any law corresponding to the provisions of 3 [Section 19,
Section 24 or Section 27A and for offences involving commercial quality of any
narcotic drug or psychotropic substance], such person, in respect of such
conviction, shall be dealt with for the purposes of sub-Section (1) as if he had
been convicted by a court in India.
Section 32: Punishment for offence for which no punishment is provided.
Whoever contravenes any provision of this Act or any rule or order made, or any
condition of any licence, permit or authorisation issued thereunder for which no
punishment is separately provided in this Chapter, shall be punishable with
imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with
Section 35: Presumption of culpable mental state.
According to Section 35 of the NDPS Act, the court shall presume the presence of
the accused's culpable mental state, but it shall be a defence for the accused
to establish that he did not have a guilty mental state.
Section 36A: Offences triable by Special Courts.
A clause in Section 36A of the NDPS Act called 'non-obstante' empowers the
Special Court to hear cases punishable by imprisonment for more than three
years. This provision is intended to ensure speedy trials. Following are some of
Section 37: Offences to be cognizable and non-bailable
- Under the NDPS Act, the government can set up Special Courts to speed up the prosecution of offences.
- Through a notification to the official gazette, it will be set up in particular areas or areas.
- The Special Court shall be considered to be a Court of Session.
- There shall be one judge of the Special Court, who will be appointed by the government with the concurrence of the Chief Justice of the High Court. To qualify for an appointment as a Special Court judge, a judge must first be a sessions judge or additional sessions judge.
- Under the NDPS Act, all of the offences punishable with a term of imprisonment over three years can be tried by a Special Court.
- By reviewing a police report or a complaint made by a state official or a central official, a Special Court will determine whether there was an offence.
- Besides the offenses under the NDPS Act, the Special Court has also been empowered with the authority to try an accused who has also been accused of other criminal offences under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC).
- Proceedings before a Special Court will be governed by the provisions of the CrPC, including those pertaining to bail and bonds.
- In the case of a Special Court, the person prosecuting the case shall be considered a public prosecutor.
- Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure,
1973 (2 of 1974),:
- every offence punishable under this Act shall be cognizable; (b) no person
accused of an offence punishable for 3 [offences under Section 19 or Section
24 or Section 27A and also for offences involving commercial quantity] shall
be released on bail or on his own bond unless:
- the Public Prosecutor has been given an opportunity to oppose the
application for such release, and
- where the Public Prosecutor opposes the application, the court is
satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that he is not
guilty of such offence and that he is not likely to commit any offence while
- The limitations on granting of bail specified in clause (b) of
sub-Section (1) are in addition to the limitations under the Code of
Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) or any other law for the time being in
force on granting of bail.
The drug problem in India is much worse than it appears. In ancient India,
ganja, charas, and other psychoactive substances were used for healing, pain
relief, and even psychotherapy. India had no law criminalizing possession or use
of drugs prior to 1985. Now, it is important to note that the NDPS Act contains
several provisions that specify serious punishments.
For example, according to
Section 37, the right to bail cannot be granted for more serious offences.
Compared to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1976 (UAPA), this
legislation was more draconian and the courts tended to be hesitant to release
people on bail as a result.
Numerous laws are intended to solve societal problems, however, when they are
misused, they can become brutal. It is more likely for draconian legislation to
emerge when the legislation becomes more stringent. In light of its strict
nature, the NDPS has the potential to be misused even more. Therefore, the
Courts are required to ensure the law does not become weaponized and justice is
administered to all segments of society.
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