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.