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Explained: Understanding the NDPS Act under which Rhea Chakraborty has been booked

11th September, 2020 Polity

 Context: Actor and nine others so far have been booked under various sections of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).

The ten accused in the case are booked under Sections 8 (c) read with section 20 (b) (ii), 22, 27A, 28, 29 and 30 of the NDPS Act.

These pertain to alleged use and possession of cannabis and psychotropic substances, financing illicit traffic and harbouring offenders as well as abetment and criminal conspiracy, attempt and preparation of committing an offence

What is the NDPS Act?

  • The NDPS Act, enacted in the country in 1985, is the primary legislation for dealing with drugs and their trafficking.
  • It was passed as India had to fulfil obligations as a signatory of various international conventions on narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances to prevent its use and illicit trafficking.
  • It has various provisions to punish manufacturing, sale, possession, consumption, use, transport of banned drugs.
  • Punishment under the Act can vary based upon the sections the accused is charged.
  • The Act has provisions for the court to grant immunity from prosecution to an addict involved in a small quantity of drugs after they voluntarily seek to undergo medical treatment for drug addiction under section 64A.
  • The Act also has the maximum punishment of the death penalty under section 31A for certain offences involving commercial quantities of a drug if the accused has been convicted before as well.
  • The central government can add or omit from the list of psychotropic substances.
  • For instance, in 2015, the central government classified mephedrone – also called as meth or meow meow – as a psychotropic substance in the Act after its popularity grew among the youth and experts warned of its grave health consequences.

The National Policy on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances

  • It is based on the Directive Principles, contained in Article 47 of the Indian Constitution, which direct the State to endeavor to bring about prohibition of the consumption, except for medicinal purposes, of intoxicating drugs injurious to health.
  • The government’s policy on the subject which flows from this constitutional provision is also guided by the international conventions on the subject.
  • India is a signatory to the single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the Conventions on Psychotropic Substances, 1971 and the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988.
  • The broad legislative policy is contained in the three Central Acts, viz. Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, and The Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1988.

The Narcotics Control Bureau

  • It is an Indian federal law enforcement and intelligence agency under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
  • The agency is tasked with combating drug trafficking and the use of illegal substances under the provisions of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.