Geeta Institute of Law
An Overview of laws relating to Narcotic Drugs in India
National Policy on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances is based on the Directive Principles of State Policy contained in Article 47 of the Indian Constitution which directs that the “State shall Endeavor to bring about prohibition of the consumption, except for medicinal purpose, of intoxicating drugs injurious to health.” Historical evidences reveal that at the end of the nineteenth century, the question of narcotic drugs was not widely regarded as an international problem calling for concerted action worldwide. Developments in the later part of the nineteenth century, however, gave a new dimension to the problem. The control of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances worldwide is according to multilateral treaties concluded between 1912 and 1988. The operation of the international system is based on national control by individual states within the limits of their territorial jurisdiction. In compliance with stipulations of the narcotic treaties, the states are bound to adopt appropriate legislation, introduce necessary administrative and enforcement measures and co-operate with international control.
DRUG ABUSE IN INDIA – CAUSE AND EFFECT
Drug Abuse in some form or other is a universal phenomenon. India is also not exception. The traditional drugs of abuse in India have been herbal cannabis and opium which were available in restricted quantities from licensed shop till recently. India is both a producer as well as an important transit country for these substances. India’s Geographical location made it a conduit for transit of these drugs from the aforesaid source countries to Europe, America and other countries. Many states in the Indian Union are considered to be highly vulnerable for the trafficking of these dependence-producing substances and in this regard the State of Jammu and Kashmir (particularly the Valley of Kashmir) has become highly famous for its involvement in the production of charas and also the smuggling of drugs like heroin into the valley from across the Line of Actual Control for onward transmission to different world destinations. In most of the Indian cities, a multiple drug culture has developed. It is very difficult for any country to have the actual assessment of magnitude of the drug addiction, as the population of addicts is on increase. However, the rate of addiction and magnitude varies from country to country and in the same country, from place to place and time to time.
Related Topic: Rights of An Arrested Person Under Indian Law.
Drug Abuse Provisions in India
The Opium Act, 1857:- In India, the earliest enactment on narcotic came on the statute book on 6th June, 1857 in the shape of the Opium Act, XIII of 1857 with a view to consolidating and amending the law relating to the cultivation of the poppy and the manufacture of opium. The Opium Act 1857, was concerned with the issue of licenses to cultivators for the cultivation of poppy, the delivery of produce to the officers of the Central Government at the established rate the limits to be fixed from time to time within which such license could be issued, the fixation from time to time of prices to be paid for the opium produced in respect of which it ensured, through its various provisions, a central government monopoly over it. It provided for penalty on cultivator receiving advances and not cultivating full quantity of land, penalty for embezzlement of opium by cultivators, penalty for illegal purchase of opium from cultivator penalty for unlicensed cultivation, penalty on officers of opium department taking bribes for enhanced penalty and for adjudication of penalties. It fixed the duties of landholders and others and police and other officers for giving information of illegal cultivation and provided for the attachment in case of illegal cultivation, confiscation of adulterated opium.
The Opium act 1858:- The Opium Act, 1857 was followed by the Opium Act 1 of 1878. “The Present Bill has the following objects:-
- To enable the Governor General in council to bring the Opium Act 1878 into force in such local areas and at such respective dates as he think fit.
- To remove the doubts as to whether Sections 4 and 5 of that Act of the free export and import of opium when thought desirable.
- To permit and regulate by rules framed under that act the form of opium duties and to facilitate the recovery of their dues by the farmers.
Thus this Act sought to regulate the possession, transport export, import and sale of opium. It provided penalty for the illegal cultivation of poppy and for bond. It also provided for warehousing of opium, confiscation of opium disposal of things confiscated and rewards powers and procedures for entry, arrest, seizure, search etc. It also provided for presumption in prosecution under the Act.
The Dangerous Drugs Act, 1930:– The government of India placed the Dangerous Drugs Act (II of 1930) on the statute book on 1st March, 1930 with a view to controlling certain operations in dangerous drugs and to centralize and vest the same in the central government. The Act also aimed at increasing penalties for certain offences relating to dangerous drugs and to render uniform all penalties relating to certain operations concerning such drugs.
Apart from these three Central Acts, several state Acts namely, The Madhya Pradesh Opium Smoking Act 1929, the Orissa Opium Smoking Act 1947, the Uttar Pradesh Opium Smoking Act 1934, the Assam Opium Prohibition Act 1947, the Bombay Opium Smoking Act 1936, were enacted to exercise control over the narcotic drugs.
The NDPS Act, 1985:- The main legislation to control drug abuse in India namely The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (For short: NDPS Act, 1985) came into effect on 14th November, 1985 replacing the Opium Act, 1857, the Opium Act, 1878, and the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1930. It played a significant role in curbing the menace of drug trade and drug use.
However in recent years, India has been facing a problem of transit traffic in illicit drugs. The spillover from such traffic has caused problems of abuse and addiction. This trend has created an illicit demand for drugs within the country which may result in the increase of illicit cultivation and manufacturing of drugs. Although a number of legislative, administrative and other preventive measures, including the deterrent penal provisions in the NDPS Act 1985, have been taken by the Government, the transit traffic in illicit drugs had not been completely eliminated. It was; therefore, felt that a preventive detention law should be enacted with a view to effectively immobilizing the traffickers.
The PITNDPS Act, 1988:- This Act provides for detention of not only those dealing in narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances but also those handing or letting any premises for the carrying on of any of the activities. The various activities covered under the Act for the purpose of preventive detention are wide covering inter-alia, cultivation of coca plant, opium poppy or any cannabis plant, engaging in the production, manufacture, possession, sale, purchase, transportation, warehousing, concealment, use or consumption, import inter-state, export inter-state, import into India, export from India or transshipment of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances. Wide meaning to ‘illicit traffic’ has been given in this Act.
Judicial Response – Drug Law Enforcement.
The object of Criminal Law is to have a society free of offences. Criminal Law tries to achieve this by way of adopting preventive and punitive measures. The latter is also adopted to achieve the same objective-prevention. If prevention can be achieved without resorting to punitive measures, Criminal Law opts for that. In this view of things criminal legislation tends to leave it to the judiciary the task of determining the actual quantum of punishment sufficient to achieve precaution through deterrence. This is the reason why the legislature often prescribes the outer limit of punishment and gives enough discretion to the judge to choose the punishment appropriate to the offence and offender. Since our experience with sentencing in socio-economic crimes meted out by our judicial officer has not been encouraging, in order to ensure appropriate punishment, the legislature started prescribing minimum punishments. Today generally the laws which deal with socio-economic offences prescribe minimum punishments, limiting the discretion of the judiciary.
The object of NDPS Act is to make stringent provisions for control and regulation of operations relating to drugs and substances. At the same time, to avoid abuse of the provision by the officer, certain safeguards are provided which in the context have been observed strictly.
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