There are typically two categories of crimes. First, there are the more usual
crimes that affect people, such as murder, theft, or assault. The second
category is White-Collar Crimes, or Socio-Economic Crimes, which include the
sale, hoarding, trafficking, and use of illegal drugs and psychoactive
substances. These crimes are mostly committed to earn money, property, or
personal gain. Such acts are frequently done by organised gangs with connections
Our country has a long history of opium and cannabis use, mainly for medicinal,
religious and recreational reasons, but now this disease of drug misuse hae
stretched its tentacles into practically every aspect of public life, and it has
had a wide range of negative repercussions on the societies where it has been
Because it is intimately linked to other organised crimes, human
trafficking, and money laundering as well as health risks like HIV -AIDS, the
problem of drug usage is seen as being significantly more severe than other
societal ills. Cannabis and opium have a long history of use in India for
social, spiritual, and therapeutic purposes. According to estimates, there are
around 850 thousand intravenous drug users (IDUs) in the country.
Drugs Control Laws in India
The origin for the development of the drugs control laws in India trails back to
The Opium Act of 1857 followed by The Opium Act of 1878 and the Dangerous Drugs
Act of 1930. These laws lacked any overarching concepts or measures to address
the issue of drug abuse in a holistic manner instead they were designed to
regulate and monitor use of some specified drugs. Additionally, there contained
very minor punishments for their violation.
India being signatory to all three
of these UN conventions - The UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961), UN
Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971), and UN Convention on Illicit
Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988), took into
consideration its responsibilities while enacting NDPS Act as well as the
Article 47 of the Constitution.
The act being the one of the harshest laws in the country prohibits production,
cultivation, sale, purchase, possession, trade, use and consumption of narcotic
drugs and psychotropic substances except for medical and scientific purposes
Nature and Object of the Act
Major Definitions under the Act
- To prohibit drug trafficking and its consumption by - Consolidating and amending
laws relating to narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances
- Controlling and regulating the operations relating to narcotic drugs and
psychotropic substances and providing for deterrent punishment.
- Implementing the provisions of the International Convention on Narcotic Drugs
and Psychotropic Substances
- Introducing methods for the forfeiture of property derived from or used in
illicit traffic of such drugs and substances.
The Section 2 of the NDPS Act defines the meaning of various terms used within
The term 'narcotic drug' is defined in the Section 2 (xiv) as - coca leaf,
cannabis (hemp), opium, poppy straw and includes all manufactured drugs; while
generally it means - a drug that in moderate doses dulls the senses, relieves
pain, and induces a feeling of elation and profound sleep but in excessive doses
causes stupor, coma, or convulsions.
The Section 2 (xxiii) defines the term 'psychotropic substance' in its clear
definition as - any substance, natural or synthetic, or any natural material or
any salt or preparation of such substance or material included in the list of
psychotropic substances specified in the Schedule;
Chapters of the Act
The Act consists of 6 chapters for the purpose of this act: Chapter I: Preliminary
This chapter contains the name, jurisdiction of the Act (short title, extent,
and commencement) and the important definitions for the purpose of the Act. It
also talks about the powers relating to addition or omission of items from the
list of psychotropic substances.
Chapter II: Authorities and officers
This chapter deals with the powers of the central government to control the
illegal drug trafficking. It also contains the powers of the investigating
officers appointed by the central and state governments. It further talks about
the Consultative Committee and guidelines for its composition.
Chapter II A: National fund for control of drug abuse
This chapter outlines the establishment of a fund by the central government to
manage the abuse of narcotics and psychoactive substances under the Section 7-A.
This also talks about an annual report of the activities financed under the
Chapter III: Prohibition, control and regulation
This chapter contains a detailed list of all the activities prohibited under the
act, as well as the measures for the control and regulation of Narcotic Drugs
and Psychotropic Substances possession. It further talks about the role of the
State and Central Governments in the prohibition of the
Chapter IV: Offences and penalties
This whole chapter deals with the list of offences under the act and their
subsequent for the purpose of the act. Since the offences defined under the act
are criminal offences, hence, this also enumerates trial process as well as
stringent punishments. The following table shows the punishments for the amount
of drugs confiscated from the possessor-
Chapter V: Procedure
|Rigorous imprisonment for a term up to 1
year, or with fine up to Rupees 10,000, or with both
|Less than commercial
|Rigorous imprisonment for a term upto10
years, or with fine up to Rupees 1 Lakh, or both
|Rigorous imprisonment for a term of 10 to
20 years, or fine of Rupees 1 Lakhs to 2 lakh
This chapter talks about the exact legal procedure that must be followed for an
investigation. Any activity by the authorities during the investigation that
does not abide by the provisions of this chapter of the act, shall lead to legal
violation. It describes:
- The process of warrant issue;
- Process of property seizure of any convict;
- Duty to inform about the illegal cultivation;
- The capacity to carry out regulated deliveries in addition to numerous other
- The statements' relevance in certain situations; and
- The police's authority to take custody of the items they have confiscated.
Chapter V A: Forfeiture of an illegally acquired property
This chapter covers the process through which a person's illegally acquired
property is forfeited by the police. The process includes identifying the
property in question, seizing it, managing it, issuing a notice to the offender,
and other similar steps. It denotes which party has the burden of evidence, the
fine due at the time of seizure, and certain transfers that are void. It further
specifies the tribunal's authority to decide on the offences while establishing
its jurisdiction over appeals. The police have the authority to seize illegally
possessed property, make findings in a case, and in some circumstances, release
Chapter VI: Miscellaneous
All of the Act's less detailed provisions are covered in this chapter. This
stipulates that when creating laws and regulations for their areas of
responsibility, the federal government and the state governments must take into
account international conventions. Additionally, it gives the government the
authority to locate and manage centres for addicts' recovery. The central
government has the authority to enact laws or transfer this authority to other
entities. All members of the parliament must study the rules and notices
pertaining to any provision of the Act.
For the purposes of this Act, the state
governments have been given similar rights, obligations, and responsibilities as
the federal government.
Amendments to the Act
The NDPS Act was amended four times in the years 1989, 2001, 2014 lastly in the
Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Act, 1988 (2 of 1989)
A significant amendment was made to the NDPS Act which added stricter guidelines
and a section for financing illegal activity under Section 27A. Production,
possession, sale, purchase, transit, warehousing, and anyone detained under
Section 27A are all considered to be part of the trafficking of illicit
Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Act, 2001:
In order to ensure that drug users and others who conduct less serious offences
receive less severe penalty, the Amendment Act of 2001 rationalised the sentence
structure while sees to it that drug traffickers who deal in considerable
amounts of drugs are punished with deterrent terms. These clauses have
occasionally been read incorrectly to mean that when calculating amounts, only
the pure drug content in the quantity of drugs confiscated should be taken into
account. This amendment aims to clarify the legislative intent to use the full
quantity of drugs seized in a case for assessing the level of punishment and not
only the pure drug content because the Act appropriately allows for punishment
for drug preparations as well.
Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Act, 2014:
The NDPS act's Section 71 outlines how drug cases should be handled, including
the regulations for treatment facilities. The Act's high-level offences were
subject to harsher penalties as a result of the earlier changes, which also made
drug use illegal. Morphine producers just need a single licence from the
relevant State Drugs Controller, as opposed to the previous process that
required numerous permits with various validity periods and lengthy stages.
The amendment prevented state-by-state conflict by achieving uniform regulation
across the nation. Patients now have easier access to a number of necessary
narcotics that are utilized in pharmaceutical formulations, including morphine,
fentanyl, and methadone. As a compromise, the death penalty was changed to a
specific 30-year term for repeat offenders found guilty of trafficking
substantial amounts of drugs. The maximum punishment for "small amount" offences
has now been increased from 6 months to 1 year as a result of this amendment.
The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2021:
A drafting error was corrected in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances
Act, 1985 through this amendment bill of 2021. When the Act was amended in 2014,
the definition of illicit activities was altered. The language in this section,
which still makes reference to the preceding clause number about the penalties
for funding such illegal actions, was not changed. The section of the Bill that
deals with fines gained a new clause number.
Important Sections under the Act
Section 3: Power to add or omit from the list of psychotropic substances
It deals with the authority to include or exclude items from the list of
psychotropic drugs. Under Section 3 of the NDPS Act, the Central Government has
reserved the right to add or remove any substance, natural material, salt, or
preparation of any such substance or material from the list of psychotropic
substances as and when it deems it necessary or expedient to do so. This can be
done in a very straightforward manner by publishing a notification in the
official gazette without a bill or amendments needing to be passed based on the
information that is currently available or a decision that has been made.
Section 7: National Fund for the control of drug abuse
Under Section 7A of the NDPS Act, the Central Government of India is
empowered to form a fund named as National Fund for Control of Drug Abuse. The
fund is specifically meant to be used to pay for costs associated with the
actions taken to combat the illicit trafficking of narcotic narcotics and
psychotropic substances. Section 7B includes a requirement for the Central
Government to submit an annual report on the projects it funds.
Section 8: Prohibition of certain operations
It is unlawful for anyone to cultivate any coca plant or gather any portion of a
coca plant, or cultivate the opium poppy or any cannabis plant, or produce,
manufacture, possess, sell, purchase, transport, warehouse, use, consume, import
interstate, export interstate, import into India, export from India, or tranship
any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance, according to Section 8(c).
But there is an exception to this section:
'Medical or Scientific Purposes and in the manner and to the extent provided by
the provisions of this Act or the rules or orders made thereunder.'
In 2006, State of Uttaranchal held that the exceptions must be judged on two
- Whether the drugs are used for medicinal purposes,
- Whether they fall within the scope of the regulatory provisions
contained in Chapters VI and VII of the act.
Section 21: Punishment for contravention in relation to manufactured drugs and
Under this section, the NDPS Act divides the punishment into three categories
based on their quantity taken: small quantity, commercial quantity, and quantity
less than commercial quantity but higher than a small quantity.
Section 25: Punishment for allowing premises, etc. to be used for commission of
This section talks about the punishment for intentionally allowing premises,
etc., to be used to commit an illegal activity. Anyone who knowingly permits a
home, room, enclosure, space, place, animal, or conveyance to be used by someone
else to commit an offence punishable under any provision of this Act while they
own, occupy, control, or use that property will be subject to the punishment
specified for that offence.
Section 27: Punishment for consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic
The consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance other than
cocaine, diacetyl-morphine, or any other narcotic drug or psychotropic substance
may result in a prison term of up to six months, a fine of Rupees 10,000, or
both. Various punishments are set forth in this section for the consumption of
narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances, including harsh imprisonment up to
one year, a fine that may reach twenty thousand rupees, or both.
The Goa Court Stated That In Order To Satisfy The Section 27 A, The
Requirements Must Be Met.
- A person has been discovered in possession of any narcotic or
psychoactive substance, regardless matter how "small" the quantity
- Any such drugs or psychoactive substances he may have had were
for his own use only, not for resale or distribution.
- As a result, it should be illegal to possess such products in
accordance with any of the Act's provisions, rules, orders, or
According to the Punjab Court, if a person who is already incarcerated is
found guilty of a later crime, the jail term will typically start after they
have completed their initial sentence. Only if it makes sense given the
particulars of the case might the court run the sentence concurrent with a prior
one. The court must utilise its power responsibly, not automatically, and in
accordance with solid judicial standards. Whether the option to order concurrent
sentences is to be used depends on the type of offense(s), as well as the
specific facts and circumstances of each case.
Section 35: Presumption Of Culpable Mental State
According to Section 35 of the NDPS Act, the accused's culpable mental state
shall be presumed to exist; however, the accused shall have the burden of
proving his innocence. The section says that the existence of accused's
culpable mental state cannot be established by a preponderance of
Section 36A: Offences Triable By Special Courts
To ensure a speedy trial, this Section's "non-obstinate" provision specifies
that any offence under this Act that carries a sentence of more than three years
in jail shall only be tried by the Special Court.
Section 41: Power To Issue Warrant And Authorisation
According to Section 41 of the Act, magistrates and specially appointed Gazetted
officers of the central excise department, narcotics department, customs
department, revenue intelligence unit, or any other department of the state are
both able to issue search warrants. As a result, while getting information,
actions can be conducted quickly and successfully.
Section 50: Conditions Under Which Search Of Persons Shall Be Conducted
The NDPS Act lays out requirements that must be met while conducting a person
search. Such requirements must be adhered to in order to avoid breaking the law,
which could lead to the accused's acquittal. According to Section 50 of the NDPS
Act, if the person whose search is to be conducted demands to be searched by a
Gazetted Officer, the authorised officer who is acting on prior information to
search the person must take the person to the closest Gazetted Officer.
Section 64A: Immunity From Prosecution To Addicts Volunteering For Treatment
Any addict who is charged with a crime punishable by Section 27 or with crimes
involving a small amount of narcotics or psychotropic substances and who
voluntarily seeks out and receives medical treatment for addiction from a
hospital or other facility run or recognized by the government or a local
authority is not subject to prosecution under Section 27 or under any other
section for crimes involving a small amount of narcotics or psychotropic
As long as the addict receives the whole course of de-addiction treatment, the
aforementioned protection from prosecution may be revoked.
Section 67: Power To Call For Information, Etc.
According to this clause, if an authorised officer suspects a violation of the
NDPS Act, the officer may request information from anyone. No confession may be
recorded under Section 67 since the empowered official has not been given the
authority to do so, either expressly or obliquely.
Major flaws associated with the Act
Like many other acts, this act also comes with some shortcomings like:
- Prolonged Trails
- Bail rules that release the wealthiest on bail while keeping the poor in
- Investigating agencies' failure to present cases for prosecution in
accordance with the prescribed procedure
The Act reverses the burden of proof and assumes the guilt of the accused
person. It is assumed that the accused knew what he was doing, had a purpose,
and intended to do it. The Act's restrictions on the issuance of bail amount
to a denial and guarantee years in prison. A defendant cannot be released on
bail unless the court has a good faith belief that the defendant is
Furthermore, it is stated that if the accuser is not proven to be in possession
of the illegal narcotics that were taken from him, it will be assumed that he
Even though India has robust legal protections, drug trafficking remains
unchecked as the number of drug usage cases rises daily. The inappropriate
application of the laws is the primary cause of this. As a result, updates that
include the incorporation of new drug compounds and their derivatives are
occasionally required. Addicts' drug use should be monitored and controlled by
established institutions and organisations.
Many laws are made to address societal issues, but when they are applied
incorrectly, they can have harsh consequences. When laws are increasingly
restrictive, draconian legislation is more likely to appear. The NDPS has the
potential to be abused even more given how stringent it is. The courts must
therefore make sure that the law is not used as a weapon and that justice is
served to all societal groups.
- Analysis of the NDPS Act 1985 (finology.in)
- Drug Laws & Punishment in India | NDPS Act, 1985 Explained - YouTube
- Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 - Wikipedia
- Raj Kumar Karwal v. Union of India, (1990) 2 SCC 409 : 1990 SCC (Cri)
- Section 21 of the NDPS Act, 1985 (refer to page )
- Section 7A of the NDPS Act, 1985
- Section 7B of the NDPS Act, 1985
- Section 8(C) of the NDPS Act, 1985
- State of Uttaranchal v. Rajesh Kumar Gupta, (2007) 1 SCC 355 : (2007) 1
SCC (Cri) 356.
- Pradip Raghunathsingh Thakur v. State of Maharashtra, (2000) 3 Mah LJ
- Arun Kambli v. State of Goa, (2000) 1 Mah LJ 780.
- Gaunter Edwin Kircher v. State of Goa, Secretariat Panaji, (1993) 3 SCC
145 (150) : 1993 SCC (Cri) 803
- Anil Kumar v. State of Punjab, (2017) 5 SCC 53.
- Abdul Rashid Ibrahim Mansuri v. State of Gujarat, (2000) 2 SCC 513 :
2000 SCC (Cri) 496.
- Bhola Singh v. State of Punjab, (2011) 11 SCC 653 : (2011) 3 SCC (Cri)
- Section 35 of the NDPS Act, 1985
- Section 37(1) of the NDPS Act, 1985
- Section 54 of the NDPS Act, 1985