NDPS Bill, 2021

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (Amendment), amended in 2021, was recently introduced in Lok Sabha. It replaces the ordinance promulgated on September 30 of this year.

What is the purpose of the bill?

  • The government introduced the Narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances act to correct an error that disabled Article 27 of the Act, punishing those who fund illegal transactions.
  • This happened in 2014 when the law was changed 2014 to facilitate access to drugs for medical needs, but the criminal law did not change accordingly.
  • In June 2021, the Tripura Supreme Court established legal oversight and ordered the Federal Ministry of Interior to amend Article 27.

Why was this change needed?

An editorial error was highlighted when the defendant claimed that he could not be prosecuted for a crime in a special court in Tripura, as Section 27A mentions an empty list. The Supreme Court of Tripura then requested the Center to change the law.

What was wrong with the bill?

  • Anomalies sneaked up when the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act was amended in 2014 to enable better medical access to drugs and remove government barriers to the transportation and approval of "essential drugs".
  • Prior to the 2014 amendment, Section 2 of the Law (viii a) contained subsections (i) through (v) defining the term "illegal traffic".
  • This clause was rewritten as clause (viii b) by the 2014 Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act as a new clause (viii a) defining "essential drugs" was inserted in Section 2.
  • However, section 27A of the NDPS Act did not make any subsequent unintended changes.

Criticism of the Bill:

  • Few experts have found that the bill has been retroactively validating criminal offences since 2014, thus violating the fundamental rights of its citizens.
  • It also infringes the basic rights of Article 21 as it may be punished for crimes for which the law exists at the time of the Commission.

The NDPS Act:

  • Prohibits the manufacture, possession, sale, purchase, transportation, storage, and/or consumption of narcotics or psychotropic drugs.
  • The NDPS Act has been revised thrice since 1988, 2001 and 2014.
  • This law applies throughout India and applies to all Indian citizens outside India and to all persons registered on ships and aircraft in India.
  • The Government of India has taken several political and other initiatives to resolve the drug trafficking problem.
  • "Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyan" or "Drugs Free India Campaign" started on the 15th based on data available from various sources.
  • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has begun implementing the National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (NAPDDR) to reduce drug demand from 2018 to 2025.
  • The government established the Narco Coordination Center (NCORD) in November 2016.
  • The GoI has set up a fund called the National Fund for the Control of Substance Abuse to cover the costs associated with the fight against illegal drug trafficking.
  • Education for the general public on substance abuse and substance abuse for addicts.
Note: June 26th was selected as the International Day for Substance Abuse and Illegal Trade at the UN General Assembly in 1987 on the 7th of December.