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Liablity and Criminality of Drugs Dealer under NDPS act, 1985

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Drugs abuse is very common in India. Drug trafficking has increased since the last three decades because of easy money and profits. To combat this trafficking in drugs, among the various measures adopted by the government, one was the enactment of the NDPS act in 1985. NDP act stands for the narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances act, 1985. It is an act that prohibits production/manufacturing/cultivation, possession, sale, purchase, transport, etc. of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance. Earlier, the statutory control was exercised by the Opium Act, 1852, The Opium Act, 1878, and The Dangerous Drugs Act, 1930, but somehow, these provisions were found to be inadequate. 

It came into force on 14 November 1985, and since then, it has been amended thrice- 19891, 20012, and 20143.

NDPS act views drug offenses very seriously and penalties are very strict. The quantum of sentence and fine varies with the offense. 

Under the NDPS act, abetment, criminal conspiracy, and even attempts to commit an offense to attract the same punishment as the offense itself. Preparation to commit offense attracts the half penalty. Since penalties are so strict and stiff, there are some reliefs like immunities or procedural safeguards have also been provided under the act.

This act has a very wide application, i.e, it applies to the whole of India, to all citizens of India even outside India, also to all ships and aircrafts registered in India, wherever they may be.

How has the NDPS act been effective in India?

Reportedly in 20184, according to National Crime Records Bureau’s data, 81,778 persons were arrested under the NDPS Act. Of these, 79,028 were male and 2,750 female. The data also claims the highest consumption of drugs were the states of Punjab and Maharashtra. According to the NCB, a total of 49,450 cases was registered for drug seizure in 2018. These cases involved 60,156 people, including foreign nationals.

Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB)

NCB is the intelligence agency of India responsible for combating drug abuse and illegal substances. It was created on 17th March 1986 for full implementation of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic substances Act, 1985 (NDPS act). The Narcotic Control Bureau has its headquarters at the national capital, Delhi, with various regional field units in various other cities. 

The Director-General of NCB is an officer of the Indian Police Service(IPS) or the Indian Revenue Service(IRS).

Offenses and penalties under the act

Chapter IV of the act deals with the offenses and their penalties. The various sections of the act from section 15 to section 32 of the act, prescribes a minimum term of six months rigorous imprisonment, which may extend to 20 years depending upon the offense with a fine from ten thousand rupees, which may be extended to two lakh rupees. Following are the major offenses sections under the NDPS act, 1985 explained briefly:

Sections of the ActOffensesPenalties
Section 15Punishment for contravention in relation to poppy strawSmall quantity-Rigorous imprisonment, for 1 year, or fine up to Rs. 10,000, or both.Quantity lesser than commercial purposes but more than small quantity- Rigorous imprisonment up to 1 year, or fine up to 1 lakh rupeesCommercial quantity- Rigorous imprisonment for 10 to 20 years, or fine for 1 lakh to 2 lakh rupees.
Section 16- CocaSection 18(c)OpiumSection 20- CannabisCultivation of opium, cannabis, or coca plants without a licenseRigorous imprisonment up to 10 years, orfine up to Rs.1 lakh, orboth.
Section 17- Prepared OpiumSection 18- OpiumSection 20- CannabisSection 21- Manufactured drugs or their preparationSection – Psychotropic substancesProduction, manufacture, possession, sale, purchase, transport, import inter-state, export inter-state or use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substancesSmall quantity – Rigorous imprisonment up to 6 months or fine up to Rs. 10,000 or both. More than small quantity but less than commercial quantity – Rigorous imprisonment. up to 10 years and fine up to Rs. 1 Lakhs. Commercial quantity – Rigorous imprisonment of  10 to 20 years and fine of Rs. 1 to 2 Lakhs.
Section 19Embezzlement of opium by the licensed farmerRigorous imprisonment of 10 to 20 years and fine Rs. 1 to 2 lakhs (regardless of the quantity)
Section 23Import, export, or transshipment of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substancesSmall quantity – Rigorous imprisonment up to 6 months or fine up to Rs. 10,000 or both. More than small quantity but less than commercial quantity – Rigorous imprisonment. up to 10 years and fine up to Rs. 1 Lakhs. Commercial quantity – Rigorous imprisonment of  10 to 20 years and fine of Rs. 1 to 2 Lakhs.
Section 24External dealings in NDPSi.e. engaging in or controlling trade whereby drugs are obtained from outside India and supplied to a person outside IndiaRigorous imprisonment for 10 to 20 years and a fine of Rs. 1 to 2 lakhs (Regardless of the quantity)
Section 25 Knowingly allowing one’s premises to be used for committing an offenseRigorous imprisonment for 10 to 20 years and a fine of Rs. 1 to 2 lakhs (Regardless of the quantity)
Section 25 AViolations pertaining to controlled substances (precursors)Rigorous imprisonment up to 10 years and fine of Rs. 1 to 2 lakhs
Section 26Punishment for offenses by the licensee and their servantsImprisonment up to 3 years or with fine or with both
Section 27Consumption of any narcotic drug or any psychotropic substanceIf the consumed substance is- (a) cocaine, morphine or diacetyl-morphine-Rigorous imprisonment up to one year or a fine up to 20 thousand rupees or bothIf consumed anything other than mentioned in (a)-Imprisonment up to six months or with fine up to 10 thousand rupees or both
Section 27 AFinancing traffic and harboring offendersRigorous imprisonment for 10 to 20 years and fine for Rs. 1 to 2 lakhs
Section 28Attempts to commit offensesSame as for the offense committed
Section 29Abetment and criminal conspiracySame as for the offense committed
Section 30Preparation to commit an offenseHalf the punishment of the offense
Section 31Enhanced punishment for offenses previously already convictedOne and half times the punishment of the offense
Section 31 AThe death penalty for some offenses previously already convictedDeath penalty
Section 32Punishment for violations not elsewhere specifiedImprisonment up to six months or fine or with both.

The above-given table is the brief description of every offense and their penalty under the NDPS act, 1985. 

Quantities regarding various offenses

Penalties regarding quantities of the substances involved in the offenses have been notified through an e-gazette notification5. These quantities have been explained briefly as follows-  

Narcotic DrugSmall QuantityCommercial Quantity
Amphetamine2 grams50 grams
Buprenorphine1gram20 grams
Charas/Hashish5 grams1 kg
Cocaine2 grams100 grams
Codeine10 grams1 kg
Diazepam20 grams500 grams
Ganja1 kg20 kg
Heroin5 grams250 grams
MDMA0.5 gram10 grams
Methamphetamine2 grams50 grams
Methaqualone20 grams500grams
Morphine5 grams250 grams
Poppy straw1 kg50 kg

Current news regarding NDPS act, 1985

Rhea Chakraborty’s Arrest

Rhea Chakraborty is an Indian actress, alleged to be the girlfriend of Indian actor Sushant Singh Rajput, who was found dead in his house on 14th June 2020. 

After three consecutive days of questioning, Rhea had been booked under various sections under the NDPS act, 1985 on 8th September 2020. NCB (Narcotics Control Bureau) accuses the actor of not only consuming drugs but also for the procurement of several hard drugs.

Sections of NDPS for which Rhea has been booked

Accused 10 people including Rhea Chakraborty have been charged under section 8(c) read with sections 20(b)(ii), 22, 27A, 28, 29, and 30. These various sections deal with various offenses and their penalties extend from imprisonment of six months to rigorous punishment of 20 years with a fine which may be extended to 2 lakh rupees. Sections under which Rhea has been arrested are explained briefly as follows-

  • Section 8(c) prohibits production, manufacture, possession, selling, purchasing, transportation, warehousing, usage, consumption, import inter-State, export inter-State, import into India, export from India, or transshipment any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance, except for medical or scientific purposes.
  • Section 20(b)(ii) provides for punishment for contravention related to cannabis and cannabis plants varying with different quantities of substance involved in the offense, i.e, contravention with small quantities is punishable with rigorous punishment up to one year or with fine up to ten thousand rupees, or both, quantity more than small quantity but less than commercial quantity will be punishable with rigorous punishment up to ten years and fines up to one lakh year and commercial quantities are punishable with rigorous punishment from ten to twenty years and fine from rupees one to two lakh rupees.
  • Section 22 provides punishment for contravention related any psychotropic substances varying with different quantities of substance involved in the offense, i.e, contravention with small quantities is punishable with rigorous punishment up to one year or with fine up to ten thousand rupees, or both, quantity more than small quantity but less than commercial quantity will be punishable with rigorous punishment up to ten years and fines up to one lakh year and commercial quantities are punishable with rigorous punishment from ten to twenty years and fine from rupees one to two lakh rupees.
  • Section 27A provides punishment for financing harboring offenders and illicit traffic, rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may extend to twenty years and shall also be liable to fine which shall not be less than one lakh rupees but which may extend to two lakh rupees.
  • Section 28 provides that whosoever attempts to commit any offense given under the act, will be punished with punishment the same as the offense committed.
  • Section 29 states that whosoever abets or is a part of any criminal conspiracy for committing any offense, will be punished with the same punishment as the offense committed.
  • Section 30 provides that if any person makes preparation to do or omits to do anything which constitutes an offense under any of the provisions of this act will be punished with half of the penalty of the offense committed.

Conclusion

NDPS act (Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic substances act, 1985) views drug abuse offenses very strictly and provides for very serious punishments to reduce these offenses. However, drug abuse is still a very basic problem in India, which has given birth to various other offenses also, as an intoxicated person is more likely to commit serious offenses like rapes, etc. than a sober person.

In the recent case of Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide mystery also, the drug’s consumption angle has given a completely new story to the case. The actor’s girlfriend Rhea has been arrested by NCB (Narcotics Control Bureau) on 8th September 2020 charged under various sections of the act, but still, the definite penalty is yet to be imposed. 

End-notes

  1. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Act’ 1988 (2 of 1989)
  2. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Act’ 2001 (9 of 2001)
  3. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Act’ 2014 (16 of 2014)
  4. All about the NDPS Act under which Rhea Chakraborty has been arrested
  5. NOTIFICATION SPECIFYING SMALL QUANTITY AND COMMERCIAL QUANTITY
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Anshika Singla

Student, Punjabi University, Patiala

Anshika Singla is a researcher, writer and always a learner. She is from Punjab. She is immensely interested in Constitutional law and Criminal law. She believes that a perfectly written article can change perspectives of people. For any clarifications, suggestions and feedback, contact her at anshikasingla513@gmail.com

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