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NDPS Act 1985 and possession of drugs explained


Recently, a special court in Mumbai denied bail to Aryan Khan, son of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, even though the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) did not find any drugs on him during his arrest.


GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Government Policies and Interventions, Issues Arising Out of the Design and Implementation of Policies), GS-III: Internal Security Challenges (Organized Crime and Terrorism)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985
  2. Key provisions and other Highlights of the NDPS act
  3. Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB)

Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985

  • The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985 prohibits a person the production/manufacturing/cultivation, possession, sale, purchasing, transport, storage, and/or consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance. (India had no legislation regarding narcotics until 1985.)
  • The Act extends to the whole of India and it applies also to all Indian citizens outside India and to all persons on ships and aircraft registered in India.
  • The Act is designed to fulfill India’s treaty obligations – India is a signatory to the United Nations (UN) Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs 1961, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971 and the Convention on Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988.
  • The Narcotics Control Bureau was set up under the act with effect from 1986.
  • The Act is in line with the DPSP is Article 47 of the Constitution: Article 47 of The Constitution of India is one of the Directive Principles which directs the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health as among its primary duties and, in particular, the State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injurious to health

Key provisions and other Highlights of the NDPS act

  • The Act provides stringent provisions for the control and regulation of operations relating to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
  • It also provides for forfeiture of property derived from, or used in, illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
  • It also provides for death penalty in some cases where a person is a repeat offender.
  • Penalties depend on the quantity of drugs involved. The Centre has notified the small and commercial quantities for each drug.
  • Addicts volunteering for treatment enjoy immunity from prosecution.
  • According to the act: Narcotic drugs include coca leaf, cannabis, opium and poppy straw while the psychotropic substances refer to any natural or synthetic material or any salt or preparation that is protected by the Psychotropic Substances Convention of 1971.
  • All the offences under the Act are non-bailable and the property acquired from a person from drug-related offences can be seized, frozen and forfeited by the government, provided that the offender has been convicted under the Act.

Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB)

  • The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) is a statutory body, under the Ministry of Home Affairs, established under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985.
  • NCB is tasked with combating drug trafficking and the use of illegal substances under the provisions of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.
  • The NCB is responsible for coordination with the Indian state governments and other central departments, implementation of India’s international obligations with regard to drug trafficking, and assisting international and foreign drug law enforcement agencies.

Data on Drug Abuse problem in India: Report by AIIMS

  • In terms of users, India’s illicit drug markets are mostly dominated by cannabis and opioids. Alcohol is the most abused substance in India.
  • The use of illegal cannabis in India is much lower than the global average – less than one-third. However, opioid use is three times higher than the worldwide average.
  • Cannabis in the form of bhang is legal in India, whereas its other forms – ganja (marijuana) and charas (hashish) – are illegal. Opioids are sold as opium (doda, phukki or poppy husk), heroin (brown sugar, smack) and pharma opioids.
  • India reported more than 2 crore opioid users in 2018, which was a five-fold jump in 14 years.
  • The maximum growth was reported in consumption of heroin.
  • India has more than 1 crore sedative users, the maximum number being in Uttar Pradesh, followed by Maharashtra, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Some drug users, relatively less in number, are taking the inhalational route and psychoactive drugs.
  • Inhalants are the only drug category prevalent among children. More than 1% of children consume inhalants. Nearly 18 lakh adults and 4.6 lakh children are in the badly-addicted category.
  • Cocaine is the less popular illicit drug in India with more than 10 lakh users. Being pretty expensive, it is mostly used by the well-off.
  • Another drug category, hallucinogens, is used in limited circles, with over 12 lakh users in this category, of which one-third are in the harmful or dependent category.
  • Findings show there are an estimated 8.5 lakh people who inject drugs (PWID) in India. Almost half of them inject heroin, while the same proportion is using injectable pharmaceutical opioids.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023