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A View on NDPS



The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 or the NDPS Act is the legislation that deals with narcotic drug or psychotropic substance prohibition in India

What is the NDPS Act?

The NDPS Act prohibits a person from the production/manufacturing/cultivation, possession, sale, purchasing, transport, storage, and/or consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.

  • Initially enacted in 1985, the Act was amended three times in 1988, 2001 and 2014.

  • According to the Act, narcotic drugs include coca leaf, cannabis (hemp), opium, and poppy straw; and psychotropic substances include any natural or synthetic material or any salt or preparation protected by the Psychotropic Substances Convention of 1971.

  • A psychotropic drug includes any natural or synthetic material or any salt or preparation protected by the Psychotropic Substances Convention of 1971.

  • The penalties under this Act are severe considering the consequences of drug abuse and its trafficking.

  • The offences under the Act attract jail terms ranging from one year to 20 years and fine depending on the crime. 

  • Under the Act, abetment, criminal conspiracy and even attempts to commit an offence attract the same punishment as the offence itself. 

  • Preparation to commit an offence attracts half the penalty. 

  • Repeat offences attract one and a half times the penalty and in some cases, the death penalty.

  • The Narcotics Control Bureau was constituted in 1986 under the provisions of the NDPS Act.

    • The NCB is a nodal agency that is responsible for coordination with various ministries, other offices & State/Central enforcement agencies with regard to drug law enforcement and also in respect of matters relating to drug abuse.

  • Under the Act, property acquired by a person from drug-related offences, who has been convicted under the Act can be seized, frozen and forfeited by the government.

  • All the offences under the NDPS Act are non-bailable.

  • Also, no relief can be sought by the drug convicts by termination, remission, and commutation of sentences passed.





The Act has been amended thrice as mentioned above. The 2014 amendment eased restrictions on Essential Narcotic Drugs (Morphine, Fentanyl and Methadone), making them more accessible for use in pain relief and palliative care.




In India, there were no regulations controlling narcotics until the NDPS Act was implemented in 1985. The Atharva Veda mentions cannabis smoking, and its recreational use was prevalent and tolerated in society, on par with alcohol consumption. Cannabis and its derivatives, including as hashish, marijuana, and bhang, were legal in the country until 1985.

The NDPS Act was passed in order for India to meet its treaty responsibilities under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.


Various groups have criticised the Act for failing to distinguish between soft and hard drugs. Some argue that if all drugs were punished the same way, drug dealers would migrate to heavier narcotics where they could earn more money. Some have called the cannabis prohibition 'elitist.' Some argue that making soft drugs legal would help to curb heroin addiction. The argument against this is that soft drugs are gateway drugs, and that using them increases the likelihood of subsequently consuming harsher drugs.


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