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A REVIEW OF NDPS (NARCOTIC DRUGS AND PSYCHOTROPIC SUBSTANCES) BILL, 2021

 A REVIEW OF NDPS (NARCOTIC DRUGS AND PSYCHOTROPIC

SUBSTANCES) BILL, 2021


The NDPS Bill which was passed in year 2021 amended the Narcotic Drugs and

Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.


About NDPS, 1985

1. The Act regulates certain operations - such as manufacture, transport and consumption -

related to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

2. Under the Act, financing certain illicit activities such as cultivating cannabis,

manufacturing narcotic drugs or harbouring persons engaged in them is an offence.

3. Persons found guilty of this offence will be punished with rigorous imprisonment of at

least 10 years - extendable up to 20 years - and a fine of at least Rs.1 lakh.

4. It also provides for forfeiture of property derived from, or used in, illicit traffic in narcotic

drugs and psychotropic substances.


ABOUT THE BILL:

1. The bill replaces an ordinance promulgated in year 2021 to correct a drafting error in a

2014 amendment to the Act.Before the 2014 amendment, clause (viii-a) of Section 2

contained sub-clauses (i) to (v), which defined the term “illicit traffic”.

2. In 2014, the Act was amended and 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.

3. The ordinance amended the section on the penalty to change the reference to the new

clause number.

Section 27A of the NDPS Act

The provision reads 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.

He shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than

ten years but which may extend to twenty years and shall also be liable to fine which shall

not be less than one lakh rupees but which may extend to two lakh rupees:


Provided that the court may, for reasons to be recorded in the judgment, impose a fine

exceeding 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 catalogue 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.


OBJECTIVE OF THE BILL

1. To help victims of drug abuse to come out of addiction.

2. To Decriminalise possession of a limited quantity of drugs for personal use while

regulating certain operations such as manufacturing, transport and consumption of

narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.


CONCERNS RELATED TO THE BILL

The new provision takes effect on May 1, 2014, and is retroactive. That is to say, a

criminal provision is provided, which will not be upheld in a court of law. It also breaches

Article 20's fundamental rights because a person might be penalised for an offence for

which a law was in effect at the time the offence was committed. It protects an accused

person, whether a citizen or a foreigner, as well as legal entities such as a company or

corporation, from arbitrary and excessive punishment.

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