What is the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NPDS) Act, 1985?

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What is the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NPDS) Act, 1985? Blog Image

Overview:

In a significant legal development, the Supreme Court recently overturned an order granting anticipatory bail to a respondent accused under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act).

About Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NPDS) Act, 1985

  • The NDPS Act prohibits any individual from engaging in any activity consisting of the production, cultivation, sale, purchase, transport, storage, and/or consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.
  • Objectives:
    • To take measures for preventing, combating, and regulating operations relating to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
    • To provide for the forfeiture of property derived from or used in, illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
    • To implement the provisions of the international conventions on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and for all relevant matters.
    • To add or omit the list of psychotropic substances.
  • What are Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances?
    • “Narcotic Drug” means coca leaf, cannabis (hemp), opium, popy straw, and includes all manufactured drugs.
    • “Psychotropic substance” means any substance, natural or synthetic, or any natural material or any salt or preparation of such substance or material included in the list of psychotropic substances specified in the Schedule.
  • Applicability: The NDPS Act prohibits a person from manufacture / production / cultivation/ possession/ sale / purchase / transport / store / consume any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance without due permission from the appropriate authorities.
  • Punishment under the NDPS Act:
    • The Act follows a graded system of punishment, with the punishment varying and the quantum of punishment being dependent upon whether the offence pertains to small, commercial, and intermediate quantities of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
    • For offences involving commercial quantities of drugs, a minimum penalty of ten years of rigorous imprisonment is prescribed, which may extend to twenty years.
    • Repeat offences attract one and a half times the penalty and, in a few cases, even the death penalty.
    • By amendment to the Act in 1989, due to the serious nature of the offence, the sentence awarded under the NDPS Act became non-commutable except for the sentence awarded for the consumption of drugs. 
  • Alongside these stringent provisions, the Act has procedural safeguards as follows:
    • Personal search: Any person being searched has a right to be searched before a Gazetted Officer or a Magistrate (Section 50).
    • Searches: Gazetted Officers of the empowered Departments can authorize searches. Such authorization has to be based on information taken down in writing. 
  • Searches can be made under certain circumstances without a warrant (from a magistrate) or an authorization (from a Gazetted Officer). 
    • Arrests: The person who is arrested should be informed, as soon as may be, the grounds of his arrest [Section 52(1)].
  • If the arrest or seizure is based on a warrant issued by a magistrate, the person or the seized article should be forwarded to that magistrate.
  • The officer who arrests a person has to make a full report to his official superior within 48 hours.
  • Immunities:
    • Officers: Officers acting in discharge of their duties in good faith under the Act are immune from suits, prosecution, and other legal proceedings.
    • Addicts: Addicts charged with consumption of drugs or with offences involving small quantities will be immune from prosecution if they volunteer for de-addiction. This immunity may be withdrawn if the addict does not undergo complete treatment.
    • Offenders: Central or state governments can tender immunity to an offender in order to obtain his evidence in the case. This immunity is granted by the government and not by the court.
    • Juvenile offenders: Juvenile offenders (below 18 years of age) will be governed by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.
    • Immunities to diplomats as applicable.

Q1) What is anticipatory bail? 

It is the bail granted to a person in anticipation and apprehending arrest. Under Section 438 of CrPC, any individual who discerns that he may be tried for a non-bailable offense can apply for anticipatory bail. The application shall be made to the High Court or Sessions Court, where the crime is alleged to be committed.Anticipatory Bail is bail before the arrest, and the police can't arrest an individual if the Court has granted anticipatory Bail.

Source: NDPS | Courts Should Be Slow in Granting Bail to the Accused in Case of Recovery of Huge Quantity of Narcotic Substance From the Accused: