NDPS (Amendment) Bill, 2021

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NDPS (Amendment) Bill, 2021

  • The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Bill, 2021 was recently introduced in Lok Sabha.
  • It seeks to replace an ordinance promulgated on September 30 this year to correct a drafting error in a 2014 amendment to the Act..
  • It will amend the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

About the Act:

  • Clause (viii-a) of Section 2 of the Act contained sub-clauses (i) to (v), which defined the term “illicit traffic”.
  • The Act was amended in 2014 to ease the access of narcotic drugs for medical necessities but the penal provision was not amended accordingly.
  • Also, the clause number of the definition for such illicit activities was changed.
  • However, section 27A on penalty for financing these illicit activities was not amended and continued to refer to the earlier clause number of the definition.
  • The ordinance amended the section on penalty to change the reference to the new clause number.
  • In a recent judgment, Tripura High Court has held that ‘until the appropriate legislative change occurs by amending Section 27A of the NDPS Act appropriately, sub-clauses (i) to (v) of clause (viii-a) of Section 2 of the NDPS Act shall suffer effect of deletion.

Section 27A of the NDPS Act:

  • It says that whoever indulges in financing, directly or indirectly, any of the activities specified in sub-clauses (i) to (v) of clause (viiia) of section 2 or harbours any person engaged in any of the aforementioned activities.
  • Offence punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term of not less than ten years upto twenty years and shall also be liable to fine of not be less than one lakh rupees upto two lakh rupees:

Reason of Section 27A getting Inoperable

  • The text of the provision says that offences mentioned under Section 2 (viiia) sub-clauses i-v are punishable through Section 27A.
  • However, Section 2 (viiia) sub-clauses i-v, which is supposed to be the catalog of offences, does not exist after the 2014 amendment.
  • So, if Section 27A penalises a blank list or a non-existent provision, it can be argued that it is virtually inoperable.


  • To help victims of drug abuse to rehabilitate.
  • Decriminalise possession of a limited quantity of drugs for personal use while regulating manufacturing, transport and consumption of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

Concerns Related to the Bill:

  • New provision has retrospective effect from 1st May 2014.
  • Also violates fundamental rights in Article 20 because a person can be punished for an offence for which there is a law in existence at the time of commission of the offence.

NDPS Act, 1985

  • Regulates certain operations like manufacture, transport and consumption of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
  • Financing certain illicit activities like cultivating cannabis, manufacturing narcotic drugs or harbouring persons engaged in them is an penal offence.
  • It is punishable with rigorous imprisonment of 10 years - 20 years and a fine of minimum Rs.1 lakh.
  • Has a provision for forfeiture of property used in illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
  • Also provides for death penalty in some cases where a person is a repeat offender.
  • Narcotics Control Bureau was also constituted in 1986.

Indian initiatives against Drug Addiction

  • Narco-Coordination Centre: Constituted in 2016 .
  • Seizure Information Management System: A software by Narcotics Control Bureau that creates a complete online database of drug offences and offenders.
  • National Drug Abuse Survey: To measure trends of drug abuse in India through the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment with the help of National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre of AIIMS.
  • Project Sunrise: Launched in 2016 by Ministry of Health to tackle the rising HIV prevalence in north-eastern states in India, especially among people injecting drugs.
  • NDPS Act: Prohibiting a person from producing, possessing, selling, purchasing, transporting, storing, and/or consuming any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.
  • Nasha Mukt Bharat: Focuses on community outreach programs.