The Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (“NDPS ACT”), which was established by the Indian Parliament on November 14, 1985, governs drug legislation in India. The Act’s main goal was to limit access to the most addictive substances ever created through distribution, sale, and import, as well as to impose severe penalties on anyone who violated the law.
The Opium Act of 1857, the Opium Act of 1878, and the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1930 were the earliest drug-related legislation in existence until the Parliament established the NDPS ACT. The provisions of these acts had little regulations and meagre penalties for drug-related offences, which persisted for a while. Only after the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, entered into force as an international peace treaty did the United States of America and the United Kingdom embrace a more stringent strategy for reducing and managing the drug problem in their respective countries. In addition to the aforementioned prohibitions, the Act also extends protection to those who violate the Act by forbidding the use of narcotics as well as their financing. The amount of narcotics confiscated from the criminals is also taken into consideration when determining the punishment, which might result in a sentence of up to 20 years in jail, a fine of Rs. 2 lakhs, or a combination of the two.
Punishments under the NDPS Act
The amount of punishment can be expressed in terms of the amount of drugs the accused possessed; these amounts are broken down into three categories: minor, less than commercial, and commercial quantities; the accused is punished in accordance with which category they fall under. The following are a few of the punishable sections of the Act:
1.“Section 8 plainly outlaws the production, manufacture, distribution, including warehousing, transport, purchasing, and sale of forbidden drugs and psychotropic substances. It also expressly forbids the growing of opium, poppy, coca, or cannabis plants. Additionally, it forbids their financing, consumption, and hosting offenders in violation of the Act.
2.According to Section 19, any farmer who cultivates opium in line with a license but embezzles would be subject to strict imprisonment for a term of between 10 and 20 years as well as fines between Rs. 1 and 2 lakh.
3. According to Section 23, anyone who engages in the illegal import, export, or transshipment of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances will be subject to punishment that may include strict imprisonment for one to twenty years and fines that may range from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 2 lakh depending on the amount of the prohibited substance. Provisions of Bail Section 27 of the NDPS Act deals with the provisions relating to bail; he relevant extracts of the section are reproduced herewith:
Offences to be cognizable and non-bailable –
1) Contrary to provisions 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 Sections 19, 24, or 27A, as well as for offences involving commercial quantity] shall be released on bail or on his own bond unless—
2)The Public Prosecutor has been given an opportunity to oppose the application for such
3) If the Public Prosecutor opposes the application, the court finds that there are good reasons to believe that the applicant is innocent of the alleged crime and is unlikely to commit another crime while out on bail.
4)The restrictions on the granting of bail listed in clause (b) of sub-section (1) are in addition to any restrictions imposed on the granting of bail by the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974), or by any other law currently in effect. It should be noted that Indian courts, including the Supreme Court of India, have stated in a string of rulings that the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act cannot be handled in a liberal manner. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has also established broad guidelines that must be followed whenever a person accused of violating the NDPS Act comes before a court with a request for bail.