What are Narcotic Drugs?
The word narcotic
refers to different types of substances which makes the
senses less effective and soothes pain. Before now, some people refer to all
drugs as narcotics, but nowadays narcotics
refers to heroin, heroin
derivatives and their semi-synthetic equivalents. These medications are also
refer to as Opioid
, which is more effective and causes less confusion about
its meaning. For example, illicit drug heroin and prescription drugs such as Vicodin, codeine, morphine etc.
Often drugs are referred to as opioid pain relievers too. They are primarily
used for severe pains which other pain killers do not treat. These medications
can be constructive when used with caution and under close supervision of the
health care provider in treating pain.
What are Psychotropic Substances?
It is an antidote that influences the functioning of the brain and induces
alterations in mood, thoughts, emotions or actions. Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine,
marijuana, and some medicines for pain are some examples of psychotropic
substances. Many illicit narcotics like heroin, LSD, cocaine, and amphetamines
are also psychotropic agents that are often referred to as psychoactive
What is the Act?
The legislative regulation over narcotic drugs was earlier being exercised
under The opium Act 1852, The opium Act 1878 and the Hazardous Drugs Act 1930.
Owing to the passage of time and changes in the field of illegal drug
trafficking and substance addiction at national and international level, the
provisions of these enactments were found to be insufficient.
A comprehensive legislation was necessary to reform and update previous laws
relating to narcotic drugs. Accordingly, the parliament adopted the Narcotic
Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Bill. It was passed in Lok Sabha on
23rd august 1985 and was enacted on 14th November 1985. The act has been amended
3 times till now in 1988, 2001 and 2014.
Purpose behind the Act
The Bill aims to achieve the following objectives
The punishment under the previous acts was not deterrent enough to meet the
challenges of well-organized smuggling gangs. The 1930 Dangerous Drugs Act
allows for up to 3 years imprisonment with or without fine and 4 years
imprisonment with or without fine for recurring offences.
However, no mandatory penalty was imposed in the past existing rules, as a
result of which drug dealers have been let off by nominal punishment. Over the
last few years, the nation has been increasingly faced with the issue of drug
transit traffic coming mainly from some of our neighboring countries and heading
mainly to Western countries.
Past Existing Central laws did not provide for investing the officers of a
variety of major Central Compliance agencies, such as Drugs, Customs, Central
Excise, etc., with the power to invest offenses under the said rules.
Since the aforementioned three Core Acts were passed, a large body of
narcotics-controlled international law has evolved through numerous
international treaties and protocols. The Government of India has been a party
to entail treaties and conventions that include numerous commitments that are
not protected or only partly covered by the preceding acts.
New opioid medications that have become known as psychotropic substances have
arrived on the scene in recent years and have created significant problems for
national governments. There is no comprehensive legislation enabling regulation
of psychotropic substances in India to be exercised in the manner provided for
in the Psychotropic Substances Convention 1971.
In view of all the above limitations, need of comprehensive legislation for the
regulation of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances was felt and demanded
that penalties for trafficking in particular should be significantly increased,
confiscation of properties originating from or used in illegal drug and
psychotropic drug trafficking should be ensured, stringent provisions should be
made for effective regulation of psychotropic substances and provisions should
be made for the enforcement of international conventions on narcotic drugs and
As a consequence, the bill was passed in the parliament and therefore Narcotic
Drugs and Psychotropic substances Act 1985 was enforced.
features of the Act:Applicability:
It is applicable to the whole of India, to all the Indians
outside India and to all persons on ships and aircrafts registered in India.
36 terms has been defined by section 2 of the act:
- addict means a person is highly dependent on any narcotic drug
or psychotropic substances.
- cannabis (hemp) means ganja, that is cannabis plant flowering
or fruiting tops without seeds and leaves when not accompanied by the tops,
under whatever name they may be known or designated.
- Even though in certain sections of the Act the term Central
Government Factories is mentioned, it has not been defined in the Act
until now. It is proposed to define Central Government Factories
within the definition of Government Company under the Companies Act, so as
to allow the Central Government the flexibility to restructure Government
The central government under the act is authorized to take necessary steps to
prevent and counter substance addiction and illegal trafficking.
According to the act, The Central government is also authorized to constitute
an advisory committee called “The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic substances
The government and public contribution led to the formation of a fund known as
“National Fund for control of Drug Abuse”.
Section 15 to 20 of the act deals with penalties for the offences under the
Punishment is given for any breach of provision in relation to poppy straw,
coca plant, coca leaves, prepared opium, opium poppy, cannabis plant and
cannabis, manufactured drugs, psychotropic substances etc.
Punishment is also given for illegal import into India or export from India, for
violation of orders made under the act, for illegal possession of narcotic drugs
or psychotropic substances in small quantity and so on.
Offences under this act shall be cognizable means clearly identifiable and non
bailable means serious offences.
Punishment: It is on the basis of quantity of banned substances
- Where the crime requires a nominal amount of up to 1 year's imprisonment
or a fine of up to 10,000 or both.
- If the crime includes a quantity less than a commercial quantity but
more than a significant quantity, with a serious jail sentence of up to 10
years and a fine of up to 1 lakh.
- Where the offense includes a commercial amount, with a period of
incarceration not less than 10 years but extending to 20 years and a fine
not less than 1 lakh
but extending to 2 lakhs.
- Punishment for consumption of morphine, cocaine, heroin etc involves a
maximum punishment of 1 year or fine of Rs 20,000 but when taken in small quantities,
then maximum punishment is 6 months or fine of Rs.10,000.
- Section 31A of the NDPS Act stipulates a mandatory death penalty after
subsequent arrest for such drug offences. But Bombay High Court objected the
constitutional validity of this section, despite that the government has neither
abolished not amended section 31A in the NDPS (Amendment Bill).
Positive aspects of the Act
An important feature of the act is that the method of adding and withdrawing
narcotics and psychotropic substances from the lists was made quite
straightforward. For this reason, no formal bill or amendment is necessary and
the government has been empowered to make these changes on the basis of
available information or a simple notification in the official gazette.
As regards subparagraph 3 of section 4, the Central Government created the
Narcotics Control Bureau in 1986 with the specific task of coordinating drug law
enforcement nationally. The NCB basically functions as the national
international liaison coordinator and as the nodal point for intelligence
collection and dissemination and ensures coordinated implementation within the
parameters of national strategy.
The power to issue search and arrest warrants has been vested in both the
Magistrates as well as in specially appointed Central and State Governments
officers as per the terms of the act. It is intended to ensure prompt and
appropriate action in response to any information and to eliminate the need for
judicial satisfaction if a warrant is issued. Thus, both timely and effective
action is ensured in response to any information.
It treats hard and soft drugs as the same, for this many people opposed it
during the discussion of the bill in the parliament.
The act was criticized in The Times of India, because due to the law offering
the same penalty for all narcotics, the paper characterized the legislation
as ill-conceived and poorly thought-out, which meant that dealers
turned their attention to harder drugs, where profits are much greater.
In 2015, Lok Sabha MP Tathagata Satpathy attacked cannabis prohibition as
elitist, and describing cannabis as the poor's intoxicant. He also thought
the ban was an overreaction to a US-made threat.
It is commendable that the past 27 years have seen significant growth in the
fight against drug dependency in particular in the areas of policy formulation
and infrastructure development. What remains to be seen now is the efficacy and
effects of the various steps which have been implemented. An assessment and
subsequent adjustment of strategies and policies on the basis of successful
research is imperative. Plans will be just that-plans, without any formal
Written By: Anaya Jain