The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act was passed by the Parliament in 1985 to consolidate and amend the law relating to narcotic drugs, and to make stringent provisions for the control and regulation of operations relating to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
- India is a signatory to the United Nations (UN) Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs 1961, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971 and the Convention on Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988.
- The NDPS Act, 1985 is the principal legislation through which the state regulates the operations of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
- The Act provides stringent provisions for the control and regulation of operations relating to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
- It also provides for forfeiture of property derived from, or used in, illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
- It also provides for death penalty in some cases where a person is a repeat offender.
- The Narcotics Control Bureau was also constituted in 1986 under the Act.
Issues with NDPS Act
- “First arrest and then investigate”seems to be the principle for investigations under the NDPS Act.
- Section 50 of the Act (conditions under which search of persons shall be conducted) needs to be followed scrupulously.
- Punitive not reformative:Those addicted to drugs need to be rehabilitated rather than punished in jails. Minor offences must not lead to individuals taking up major crimes.
- Rehabilitation centres must be opened and youth must be counselled against drug injection and consumption.
- No distinction between end user and peddler: The Act currently views everyone as a supplier. The recent case of Aryan Khan and others is an example. High Court ultimately granted bail and rejected Special court’s orders.
- A drug user needs to be seen as a patient.
- The Act as of now prescribes jail for everyone, the end user and the drug supplier.
Challenges in enforcing the NDPS Act
- Peddling: Since drug peddling is an organised crime, it is challenging for the police to catch thepersons involved from the point of sourceto the point of destination.
- Identifying drugs that are being transported is a challenge since we cannot stop each and every vehicle that plies on Indian roads.
- Transportation: Most drug bust cases are made possible with specific information leads. Unless we check every vehicle with specially trained sniffer dogs, it is difficult to check narcotic drugs transportation.
- Production: The main challenge is to catch those producing these substances. Secret cultivation are mostly carried on in LWE affected areas.
- Going beyond State jurisdiction, finding the source of narcotic substances and destroying them is another big challenge.
- Delay in trials: Securing conviction for the accused in drugs cases is yet another arduous task.
- There are frequent delays in court procedures. Sometimes, cases do not come up for trial even after two years of having registered them.
- By then, the accused are out on bail and do not turn up for trial.
- Bringing them back from their States to trial is quite difficult let alone getting them convicted.
- Flaws in the legal system: The cause behind drug menace is the drug cartels, crime syndicates and ultimately the ISIwhich is the biggest supplier of drugs.
- Rave parties have been reported in the country where intake of narcotic substances is observed.
- These parties are orchestrated by the drug syndicateswho have their own vested interests.
- Social media plays an important role in organising these parties.
- The police have not been able to control such parties.
There is a need to examine the root cause of the problem such as operations of drug syndicates especially in the border areas. Civil society and governments will have to work together to create an enabling environment to address the issue. Moreover, the reformation aspect must be taken up more vigorously than the punitive aspect especially for end-users falling prey to drug addiction.