This article is written by Sambhabi Dutta, pursuing Certificate Course in Introduction to Legal Drafting: Contracts, Petitions, Opinions & Articles from LawSikho. The article has been edited by Prashant Baviskar (Associate, LawSikho) and Smriti Katiyar (Associate, LawSikho).

Substance abuse

The excessive use of a substance, especially alcohol or a drug is known as substance abuse. In India it is a crime to use any banned substance and also selling and consuming it is a criminal offence, and there is a huge penalty as well as a jail term. Substance abuse disrupts bodily functions and has numerous side effects. The most common substances used in India are alcohol, heroin, ganja, marijuana and cocaine. Substance abuse causes health problems like lack of interest in things, change in behaviour, no drive to take part in self-care, spending more time alone, appetite increasing or decreasing manifolds, sleeping at odd hours, having problems at work or with family, mood swings, strong desire to do substance abuse again

Which act deals with substance abuse in India?

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, was enacted with stringent provisions to curb this menace. The Act envisages a minimum term of 10 years imprisonment extendable to 20 years and fine of Rs. 1 lakh extendable up to Rs. 2 lakhs for the offenders. A comprehensive strategy involving specific programmes to bring about an overall reduction in the use of drugs has been evolved by the various government agencies and NGOs and is further supplemented by measures like education, counselling, treatment and rehabilitation programmes. Substance abuse can be addressed at the individual level, at the local level (state, national, etc.) and at the cross-national level. At the individual level, there has to be a synthesis of biological understanding with the exploration of background socio-cultural factors. At the national and cross-national level, there has to be a concerted effort of all the countries in managing the issue of substance abuse, taking into account the local socio-cultural and political scenarios.

Who is a drug addict?

A drug addict is a person who has a dependence on narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances. 

Any person who assists a narcotic trafficker or conceals narcotics on behalf of someone will be prosecuted as per the NDPS Act since he has complete knowledge that he has committed a crime or is about to commit a crime. This was held in R.V. Jakson (1997) 35 (2d) 331.

Substance abuse in India during COVID-19

In India, during the lockdown, there has been an immense rise in substance abuse especially in Punjab, which saw a 23% rise of drug addicts registered with the state government for receiving de-addiction treatment.

Statistics of drugs abuse in India

Over 2,300 people died due to drug overdose from 2017-19 in India with the highest number of such fatalities recorded in the age group of 30-45 years, according to the data by the National Crime Records Bureau.

The highest number of deaths from 2017-19 was recorded in the age group of 30-45 years at 784 and 624 people died in the age bracket of 18-30 years and 550 people died in the age group of 45-60 years due to drug overdose.

Drugs cases in India

Total cases rose by 74 per cent in the decade ending 2020 over the decade ending 2010. Seizure of drugs in 2020 included 8.5 lakh kg of cannabis-based drugs and 2.99 lakh kg of opium-based drugs. Cocaine, psychotropic substances and medical preparations were among the other drugs seized in India.

Introduction to drugs consumption in India

In today’s time, drug menace has increased a lot and it has taken a toll on the young generation that is between 20-30 years. The major reason is due to high peer pressure and the high unemployment ratio in India due to Covid-19. A lot of the younger generation are selling banned substances and are disturbing peace and are in the process of committing a crime that is a punishable offence.

It is not easy to get bail but it is up to the prosecution to prove the nexus beyond a reasonable doubt. In NDPS even chat messages are considered as strong evidence to book the accused.

In India cases of NDPS have been on a rise and there is a need to curb the menace from the grassroots levels. In schools especially they must try to bring awareness on the consumption of drugs and the ill effects on their health as well as the overall functioning of their nervous system. There should be awareness campaigns in localities so that people get to know about the ill effects of drugs.

In our country, the NCB that is the Narcotics Control Bureau is the authoritative agency that has been given the power to deal with cases related to drugs and prosecute, arrest the accused and investigate the nexus between the accused and the drug peddlers. They can raid any premises if they feel that the premises are dealing with drugs or some rave party is occurring without permission and can arrest anyone without a warrant.

It is one of the strongest agencies in India which is there to punish the drug peddlers.

The recent two cases which have shocked the nation are:

In the first Sushant Singh case, Rhea Chakroborty got arrested and later released on Bail on the part of the consumption of drugs. She and a few others had been under the possession of drugs and had also sold drugs. The quantity had exceeded the amount and henceforth she was booked under NDPS Act.

The latest case is of Aryan Khan son of Sharukh khan. He is still in jail because the NCB feels that he is indirectly in possession of drugs. A few Whatsapp chats have been found by him and the drug peddlers. Aryan Khan was arrested on 3rd October and since then his bail plea has been rejected by the lower court as well as the session’s court.  The NCB is looking for other people who are involved in this nexus and Ananya Pandey, another Bollywood actress has come under the radar for the consumption and selling of drugs. She was also quizzed by NCB but since no nexus has been found she has not been arrested but her Whatsapp messages show that she tried to arrange drugs for Aryan khan and if found out that she is involved then even she might be arrested because it is a crime to arrange drugs for somebody else.

Legal provisions in relation to substance abuse and selling of the same

According to NDPS Act, Section 8 prohibits any person from cultivating any coca plant, opium poppy and any Cannabis plant. It can only be produced only for medical and scientific purposes. If any person procures then that person may be liable for prosecution and also a fine or a jail term may be imposed or both.

According to Section 15 if any person produces, possesses, transports poppy straw other than for scientific purposes then that person on the basis of gravity or quantity consumed may be put behind bars. If the quantity is small then the jail term will be of 1 year and a fine of RS 10,000 or both may be imposed.

If the quantity is less but greater than a small quantity then a jail term will be of 10 years and a fine of 1 Lakh may be imposed.

If it involves commercial quantity then imprisonment will be not less than 10 years and may extend to 20 years and a fine not less than 1 lakh but may be extended to 2 lakh may be imposed.

The court may for reasons impose a fine exceeding 2 lakh rupees.

In accordance with Section 16 if any person contravenes the quantity with respect to coca plant or coca leaves or cultivates, produces, possesses, sells, purchases, transports it either by interstate or by intrastate then a jail term of 10 years or with fine upto 1 lakhs will be imposed on that person.

According to Section 17 with respect to opium if any person manufactures, possesses, sells, purchases, transports opium then with respect to quantity the jail term and fine will be imposed.

If it involves a small quantity then 1 year imprisonment or fine 10,000 or with both.

If it involves quantity lesser than commercial quantity but greater than small quantity then jail term will be upto 10 years or with fine upto 1 lakh and if it involves commercial quantity then the jail term shall not be less than 10 years but extend to 20 years or fine upto 1 lakh but extend to 2 lakh.

The Court may for reasons impose a fine exceeding 2 lakh.

According to Section 18 if any person cultivates opium poppy or produces, manufactures, possesses, sells, purchases and transports these banned substances then with respect to the gravity of quantity the imprisonment and fine are given.

If it involves a small quantity then 1 year imprisonment or fine 10,000 or with both.

If it involves quantity lesser than commercial quantity but greater than small quantity then jail term shall not be less than 10 years but will extend to 20 years and fine not less than 1 lakh but may extend to 2 lakh.

The Court has the discretion to impose a fine exceeding 2 lakh or in any other case, which may extend to 10 years or with fine which may extend to 1 lakh.

According to Section 19 if any cultivator contravenes or without any sanction from the Central Government disposes of any part of opium then that person may be given a jail term of 10 years extend to 20 years and fine not less than 1 lakh but extend to 2 lakh.

The Court may for reasons impose a fine upto 2 lakh.

According to Section 20 if any person cultivates. Produces, manufactures, possesses, sells, purchases transports a Cannabis plant and Cannabis then a jail term of 10 years and fine upto 1 lakh if that person cultivates the Cannabis plant and other clauses then with respect to quantity the imprisonment and fine is imposed.

If the quantity is of small quantity then jail term of 1 year and fine upto 10,000 or with both.

If it involves quantity lesser than commercial quantity then a jail term of 10 years and fine upto 1 lakh may be imposed.

If it involves commercial quantity then a jail term of 10 years but it might extend to 20 years and fine upto 1 lakh which may extend to 2 lakh.

The Court may impose a fine upto 2 lakhs.

According to Section 21 if any person manufactures any banned substance or prepares any banned substance or possesses, sells, purchases, transports then with respect to quantity the person will be arrested and prosecuted as per the Law.

If the quantity is of small quantity then jail term will be of 1 year and fine upto 10,000 or with both.

If it involves quantity lesser than commercial quantity then a jail term of 10 years and fine upto 1 lakh may be imposed.

If it involves commercial quantity then a jail term of 10 years but it might extend to 20 years and fine upto 1 lakh which may extend to 2 lakh.

The Court may for reasons impose a fine exceeding 2 lakhs.

According to Section 22 whoever contravenes any provision of this Act or any rule or order made or condition of the license granted thereunder, manufactures, possesses, sells, purchases, transports, imports, inter-state, exports, interstate or uses any Psychotropic substance shall be punishable as per the gravity of the quantity.

If the quantity is of small quantity then jail term of 1 year and fine upto 10,000 or with both.

If it involves quantity lesser than commercial quantity then a jail term of 10 years and fine upto 1 lakh may be imposed.

If it involves commercial quantity then a jail term of 10 years but it might extend to 20 years and fine upto 1 lakh which may extend to 2 lakh.

The Court may for reasons impose a fine exceeding 2 lakhs.

Section 23 – If any person illegally imports, exports or transhipment any narcotics drugs and Psychotropic substances then with respect to quantity punishment and imprisonment is imposed.

If the quantity is of small quantity then jail term of 1 year and fine upto 10,000 or with both.

If it involves quantity lesser than commercial quantity then a jail term of 10 years and fine upto 1 lakh may be imposed.

If it involves commercial quantity then a jail term of 10 years but it might extend to 20 years and fine upto 1 lakh which may extend to 2 lakh.

The Court may for reasons impose a fine exceeding 2 lakhs.

According to Section 24 whoever deals with narcotics and psychotropic substances or contravenes section 12 and if any person without the permission of the Central Government deals with it then a jail term upto 10 years and extension to 20 years and fine upto 1 lakh which may be extended to 2 lakhs.

The Court may for some reason impose a fine exceeding 1 lakh.

According to Section 26 if any person without any documents procures any banned substances or without any license has kept these at their house then that person will be imprisoned with a term upto 3 years or with fine or with both.

According to Section 27 if any person consumes any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance which is cocaine, morphine, diacety-l-morphine then that person will be imprisoned for a term which may extend to a year or with a fine which may extend to 20,000 or with both.

If it is other than these prescribed then imprisonment upto 6 months or fine upto 10,000 or with both.

Section 27 A- If any person indulges in financing the banned substance, directly or indirectly then that person might be imprisoned not less than 10 years but which may extend to 20 years and fine not less than 1 lakh but may extend to 2 lakh.

The Court may for reasons impose a fine exceeding 2 lakh.

According to Section 27 B if any person contravenes the provision of Section 8 A then imprisonment is not less than 3 years but might extend to 10 years and also fine may be imposed.

According to Section 30 if any person prepares any banned substance or is punishable under Sections 19, 24 and 27A then that person shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one half of the minimum term but may extend to one- half of the maximum term and fine not less than one half of the minimum amount (if any) of fine, but may extend to one- half of the maximum amount of fine.

The Court may impose a higher fine as it wishes and it is the discretion power of the Judge to decide.

According to Section 43 if the officer of NCB feels that in any public place there is selling of drugs taking place then that person will be searched and if drugs are found or that person was trying to sell those drugs to that person then those items will be seized and appropriate punishment will be given as per the learned Court.

According to Section 38 if any offence has been committed by a company, then each and every person will be responsible and it shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to have proceeded accordingly. All of them will be booked as per the quantity and all of them will be prosecuted as per the NDPS act.

If there is any information that any premises or any place where people are engaging themselves in drugs and the persons have knowledge that they are involving themselves in drugs and are selling drugs then the NCB without any prior information can raid the premises and can arrest them there and then and can also seize the drugs and the premises will be closed.

The selling of drugs will also lead to prosecution. A hefty fine and a jail term will be imposed on that person. It is considered a crime to sell drugs to anyone and if someone else is selling drugs on behalf of someone then even that person will be booked under the NDPS Act.

In India selling and procuring drugs is a wrong act and it attracts criminal liability. It is a very serious offence and henceforth it is not that easy to get bail.

If any person does or uses any banned substances which are banned by the Central Government then that person will be prosecuted and adequate punishment will be given. 

If the gravity of the selling of a substance is less than the prescribed limit then the Court may deem fit that the person is given a chance to be provided with community service or rehabilitation or counselling to be provided to him/her instead of Judicial/ Police custody.

All the officers of the NCB have the same power as that of a Police Officer and they can arrest any suspicious person if they feel that the person is involved in drugs or is a drug peddler.

There is a law that deals with drug peddlers and drug addicts and this is the only way the menace of drugs can be stopped in India.

In India, if a person is already convicted and that person was out on bail and still he had again committed the same offence then the death penalty is imposed on that person so that the crime becomes a deterrent to other people who want to commit that same crime.

Drugs in news in India

In recent times the drug menace has increased quite high in India.

  1. Drug peddler held from Pune railway station with mephedrone worth Rs 2 lakh:- A team of Anti- Narcotics cell received a tip-off about a person who was selling contraband drugs in the Pune Railway Station area and the bus stand located next to it.
  2. In Maharashtra, 22 people were booked for consuming drugs at Igatpuri villas.
  3. In Bangalore, a gang that grew Hydro Ganga using artificial lights were arrested and drugs worth Rs 1 lakh crore were seized.
  4. In Mumbai a major drug cartel busted in Bandra-Kurla, 3 people were detained by NCB.
  5. In recent case drugs from Pakistan worth Rs 300 crore were seized in Gujarat’s Dwarka District– One person has been arrested because he had concealed a large number of drugs inside the bags and was found in possession of drugs which is a crime under the NDPS act.
  6. In Delhi, 3 people were held for importing drugs worth Rs 35 lakhs through the darknet.
  7. Largest heroin haul in India: – Rs 21,000 crore worth of drugs seized at Gujarat’s Mundra Port.

The Indian laws are very strict with respect to selling drugs and proper action has been taken against the accused.

Conclusion

The drug peddlers are not spared and appropriate punishment is given to them by the Court and this is the only way our country will be freed from the menace of drugs.

The NDPS Act has undertaken several viable measures for the prevention and punishment for all drug-related offences and drug trafficking, however, there still needs to be more provisions for reformation as far as this Act and its provisions are concerned. Despite the fact that illuminating presences and society representatives can be brought within to recommend and evaluate changes in the drug policy, these measures have not yet been put into utilization and a thorough inspection of the provisions of the Act reiterate the fact that the punishments are deemed to be more cruel with little chance of reformative action or rehabilitation. The transformation of the NDPS Act itself is the principal walk to be taken if the Government genuinely tries to reaffirm its dedication towards eradicating India’s growing drug problem.

References


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