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Balbir Kaur v. State of Punjab (2009)

This article is written by Easy Panda. It provides a detailed study of the case of Balbir Kaur vs. State of Punjab (2009), along with the facts, issues raised, arguments of the parties, and the rationale behind the judgement. It also delves into the laws involved and an analysis of the judgement. This case is particularly concerned with the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

It has been published by Rachit Garg.

Introduction 

“Addiction begins with the hope that something ‘out there’ can instantly fill up the emptiness inside. – Jean Kilbourne

Drug abuse is one of the most common global issues which has a great impact on individuals and the society. It includes all kinds of harmful drug use, which leads to various mental and physical issues. Drug abuse also has social and economical consequences, which affects the daily lives of the people. Regular consumption of these illegal drugs could ruin and eventually also end a person’s life, which is why several drugs are banned around the world. The youth of today are some of the major victims of drug addiction. Looking out for new sensations, a relief from pain, anxiety, etc., seem to be some of the reasons behind the use of drugs. Peer pressure is one of the biggest factors. The use of drugs has a negative impact on society as a whole, and it is important to prevent this through all possible approaches and measures.    

Distribution and consumption of drugs is a serious issue in India as well, and to reduce and control this, the government of India has been taking various measures, one of which is the enactment of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (hereinafter referred to as NDPS Act). 

Details of the case

Case name- Balbir Kaur vs. State of Punjab

Appellant- Balbir Kaur

Respondent- State of Punjab

Court- Supreme Court of India

Bench- Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice Mukundakam Sharma

Case type- Criminal appeal

Date of Judgement- 7th July, 2009

Equivalent Citation- (2009) 15 SCC 795

Background of the case 

The case of  Balbir Kaur vs. State of Punjab (2009) is an instance wherein the appellant filed an appeal to the Supreme Court, against the order and the judgement passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh. Before looking into the facts of the case, we must get a clear understanding of the usage of drugs and such substances in India. Also, to get more insights, we should look into the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 for better comprehension of the case.

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 deals with the issue of illicit drugs and such substances in India. It prohibits a person from producing, manufacturing, selling, transporting, storing or consuming any kind of narcotic drug or psychotropic substance. This legislation was enacted to reform and update the then laws relating to narcotic drugs, that is, The Opium Act, 1852; The Opium Act,1878; and The Hazardous Drugs Act,1930. The introduction of the NDPS Act was necessary, since the provisions laid down in these previous legislations turned insufficient with the passage of time. This Act prescribes severe penalties for the commission of offences, such as imprisonment which can extend up to 20 years, along with fines, depending on the gravity of the offence committed. The objective behind the establishment of this Act was to introduce stringent measures for the control and regulation of distribution, possession, sale and consumption of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

In the present case, the importance of conscious possession in matters which deal with contraband substances, formed the core component. The judgement established an essential legal precedent, with respect to the interpretation and application of the NDPS Act,1985.

Facts of the case 

On 19 December 1988, Sub Inspector Uttam Singh was on patrolling duty, along with Assistant Sub Inspector Kasturi Lal and his other colleagues. The patrolling was supposed to be in the villages of Tepla, Rajgarh and Ram Nagar Sainia. When the patrolling party neared the turning of Village Darian, a lady was seen sitting on two bags. Being suspicious of her behaviour, Sub Inspector Uttam Singh asked her about the contents of the bag. She quietly replied that the bag contained poppy husk. Meanwhile, another man, Rajwant Pal Singh joined the police party while they were examining the woman.

The lady was asked by the Sub Inspector Uttam Singh, whether she would prefer to be searched in front of a gazetted officer or not, to which she replied that she wanted to be searched before a gazetted officer and by a lady. Sub Inspector Uttam Singh sent a wireless message to Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Harcharan Singh Bhullar and also requested for a lady constable. D.S.P Harcharan Singh Bhullar thereafter disclosed his identity and that of a lady constable in front of the accused lady. The search was carried out by Senior Inspector Uttam Singh and both the bags were found to be containing poppy husk. 250 grams from each of the bags was taken out as a sample. The first bag contained 30 kg 500 grams, while the second bag contained 29 kg 500 grams of poppy husk. The parcel containing the sample was sealed, and the bags were taken into possession. Senior Inspector Uttam Singh arrested the lady and recorded the statement of the witness Rajwant Pal Singh. After depositing the case property with Gaurmail Singh and completing all other necessary formalities, a charge sheet against the lady was presented in the court. 

During the trial, the prosecution examined a number of witnesses and the statement of the accused was recorded under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (hereinafter referred to as CrPC). The accused denied all the charges against her and pleaded innocence. The trial court examined all the records, including the depositories of the witnesses, and passed its judgement on 20 February 1999. The court was of the opinion that the prosecution was able to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, and held that the accused held no licence or permit to possess 61 kgs of poppy husk. Therefore, the trial court held the accused guilty under Section 15 of the NDPS Act and was sentenced to a rigorous imprisonment for 10 years. The trial court also asked the accused to pay a fine of Rs 1 lakh and in default, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for an additional 2 years. 

Being aggrieved by the decision of the Trial Court, the accused filed an appeal before the High Court of Punjab and Haryana. The High Court, after hearing the contentions of the parties, upheld the judgement of the Trial Court, on 15 May 2008, and dismissed the appeal. Thereafter, the appellant being aggrieved by the order of the High Court, appealed to the Supreme Court, under Article 134 of the Indian Constitution. 

Issues raised 

The issues raised in the present appeal before the Hon’ble Supreme court of India were-

  • Whether the High Court has considered all material facts while dismissing the appeal?
  • Whether there has been any violation of Section 52 and Section 57 of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic substances Act?
  • Whether a rigorous imprisonment for another 2 years in default of paying a fine of Rs 1 lakh, is valid? 

Law involved 

Provisions under the NDPS Act, 1985

Section 15

Section 15 of the NDPS Act deals with the punishment for breach, with respect to poppy straw. 

  • It states that if a person is caught being in possession of poppy straw, and it is proved that he was aware about the nature of having such a substance in his possession, that person will be held liable, with a sentence of ten years of rigorous imprisonment. 
  • If a person is found with poppy straw in a quantity lower than the commercial limit, but higher than a smaller quantity, he will also be held liable and be sentenced to a rigorous imprisonment of ten years, and may also include a fine of one lakh rupees.   
  • If a person is caught with the possession of poppy straw of a commercial quantity, he will be sentenced with rigorous imprisonment for a period which shall not be less than 10 years, but may extend to 20 years, along with a fine a minimum of  1 lakh rupees, which may also extend to 2 lakh rupees.

In the case of State of Haryana vs Kewal Singh and Anr (2023), a charge against the accused persons was framed under Section 15 of the NDPS Act. The facts of the case were such that two plastic bags containing more than 100 kg of poppy husk, were found in the trunk of their vehicle, along with a fake number plate. The accused were unable to disprove the charges against them and provide a justification for the possession of such a large quantity of poppy husk. Later, the accused pleaded not guilty and claimed trial. In addition to that, both the accused were alleged to have committed offences that were punishable under Section 279 (Rash driving or riding on a public way), Section 337 (Causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and Section 304A (Causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. However, the Punjab-Haryana Court, after hearing the arguments of the parties, held that the lack of any independent witness had weakened the case for the prosecution and therefore no charges could be made.  

Section 20(b)

Section 20(b) outlines the punishment for the breach, with respect to cannabis plants, as well as cannabis. It states that anybody in violation of any provisions or rules or order or conditions of licence, with respect to the NDPS Act, cultivates any cannabis plant, or manufactures, produces, possesses, sells, transports, purchases, imports and exports the same inter-state, or uses cannabis, will be liable to be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years, as well as a fine of 1 lakh rupees. In simple terms, this section declares possession of illegal articles an offence. 

In the case of Rizwan Khan vs. State of Chhattisgarh (2020), the court convicted the accused for being in possession of 20kg of prohibited narcotic substance, under Section 20(b) of the NDPS Act, and an appeal made against him was also dismissed.

Section 35

Section 35 concerns itself with the presumption of culpable mental state. It states that the court shall presume the existence of the accused’s guilty mental state, but it shall be a defence for the accused to prove that he does not possess the same. Under this Section, the term “culpable mental state” includes intention, motive, knowledge of a fact and belief in, or having reasons to believe a fact. 

In the case of Abdul Rashid Ibrahim Mansuri v. State of Gujarat (2000), it was held that if an accused convicted under the NDPS Act admits that narcotic drugs were recovered from the bags found in his possession, the burden of proof to establish that he had no knowledge of the bags containing such substances in terms of Section 35 of NDPS Act, lies on him.

Section 41

Section 41 lays down the power to issue warrant and authorisation. It states that a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Magistrate of first class or any Magistrate of the second class appointed by the State Government possesses the power to issue a warrant for the arrest of any person who has committed any offence punishable under the NDPS Act. They also hold the power to issue search warrants at any time of the day and at any place where such a crime has been committed. This Section also deals with the power of any officer of departments such as, excise, narcotics, customs revenue intelligence, etc., of the government (either Central or State) to authorise, by way of a general or specific order, any officer who is a subordinate to him, but superior in rank to a peon, sepoy or a constable, to arrest any person or conduct a search and seizure in any building, place, etc, when he has adequate reason to believe that the person has committed any kind of offence punishable under the NDPS Act.

In the case of T.Thomas v. State of Kerala (2013), the Kerala High Court held that the authorisation discussed under Section 41 is not mandatory. The gazetted officer himself can conduct the search and such a kind of authorisation is only required when the search is to be conducted by any officer who is subordinate to the gazetted officer.

Section 42

Section 42 establishes the power of entry, search, seizure and arrest without warrant or authorisation. This power is given to various officials appointed by the State and Central Government, such as officers of departments of excise, narcotics, customs, revenue intelligence, paramilitary forces or armed forces, revenue, drugs control, police, etc., Such an officer, who has reason to believe, either from his personal knowledge or information received and reduced into writing, any offence under the act, has been committed, or any substances which are prohibited under the act are stored in any building, place, etc, may between sunset and sunrise:-

  • Enter into and search any such building, place, etc.
  • Break and open any door or,
  • Remove any obstacle for exercising the power above mentioned or,
  • Seize any such article in respect of which any offence is punishable under the NDPS Act.

In case of a search or an arrest, with regards to anyone holding a licence for manufacturing drugs or substances under the Act, it must be conducted by an officer of a higher rank, such as a sub-inspector. Moreover, if the officer believes that obtaining a search warrant may lead the offender to escape or concealment of the evidence, they can enter and search the place, area, etc., between sunset and sunrise, without a warrant, as long as the reasons for the same are recorded. Furthermore, any information written down, as mentioned above, shall be forwarded to the immediate superior official within 72 hours.

In the case of Mohan Lal vs. State of Rajasthan (2015), it was held by the Supreme Court that the meaning of possession depends on the object and purpose of the enactment. Under the NDPS Act, once the possession is proved, the burden of proof shifts to the accused, to justify the same. Additionally, non-compliance with Section 42 is not permissible. However, significant compliance or delay in compliance can be permitted in exceptional situations.

Section 43

Section 43 – This Section concerns itself with the power to seize and arrest in public places. It states that any officer mentioned under Section 42, shall possess the power to detain and search any person in a public place, and if that person is found to be in the possession of any illegal narcotic drug, psychotropic or controlled substance, he as well as any person accompanying him, can be arrested. 

Along with any narcotic drug, psychotropic or controlled substance, any animal, vehicle or article connecting to these illegal substances, shall also be liable to seizure. Any document or such article, which the officer has reason to believe may provide evidence of the commission of an offence which is punishable under the Act, or any document which may provide evidence of any illegally acquired property, are liable for seizure or forfeiture under Chapter VA of the Act. This Section also states that such a search and seizure process, as provided above, does not require the officer conducting the search to record his reasons in writing, as prescribed under Section 42 of the NDPS Act.  

The term “public place” mentioned in this provision includes any public conveyance, hotel, shop, or any other place intended for use and is accessible to the public.

In the case of Directorate of Revenue vs. Mohd. Nishar Holia (2007), the Supreme Court held that a hotel is considered as a public place but a room occupied by a guest may not be a public place. The court also observed that while search and seizure between sunrise and sunset can be carried out, no authority has the power to infringe upon the right to privacy of any person.

Section 50

Section 50 – This Section states the various conditions under which the search of a person may be conducted. Any officer authorised under Section 41, Section 42 and Section 43,  shall conduct a search of any person involved in any kind of offence prohibited under this Act, and shall take such person to the nearest gazetted officer of any department under Section 42 or to the Magistrate without any kind of delay, if so required. If such a request is made, the officer may detain the person until he is presented before the gazetted officer of any department under Section 42, or the Magistrate. The gazetted officer or the Magistrate before whom the person is brought, can direct for the search to be carried out only on finding reasonable grounds for the same. If not, the person shall be discharged. 

This provision also lays down that a female shall not be searched by anyone except another female. 

However, if the officer has any kind of reason to believe that it is not possible for him to take the person to be searched, to the gazetted officer or the Magistrate, without the possibility of that person parting with the possession of any kind of narcotic drug or psychotropic substance, he may proceed to search the person under Section 100 (persons in charge of closed place to allow search) of the CrPC. The reasons behind such a belief shall be recorded by the officer, and a copy of the same shall be sent to his immediate superior officer within 72 hours.

In the case of State of Punjab v. Baljinder Singh & Anr. (2019) the Supreme Court observed that merely because there was non-compliance of Section 50 of the NDPS Act as far as “personal search” of the accused was concerned, and no benefit can be extended so as to invalidate the effect of recovery from the search of the vehicle. The Court also stated that “the mandate of Section 50 of the Act is confined to “personal search” and not to search of a vehicle or a container or premises”. 

Section 52

Section 52- This Section delves into the disposal of arrested persons and the articles seized. A person arrested under the NDPS Act, must be informed about the grounds of his arrest, as soon as possible. If a person’s arrest or any seizure, is based on a warrant issued by the Magistrate, that person or the seized product must be forwarded to that Magistrate. 

It also lays down that every person arrested and article seized under sub-section (2) of Section 41, Section 42, Section 43 or Section 44 (Power of entry, search, seizure and arrest in offences relating to coca plant, opium poppy and cannabis plant) shall be forwarded to the officer-in-charge of the nearest police station or to the officer authorised under Section 53 (power to invest officers of certain departments with powers of an officer-in-charge of a police station) of the Act, without any unnecessary delay. The authority or the officer to whom any person or article is forwarded, shall promptly take such measures, which are necessary for the disposal of the person or article, in accordance with the law.

The case of State of Punjab vs. Makhan Chand (2004), laid down that Section 52 does not empower the Central Government to lay down the precedent for search of an accused, but only deals with the disposal of the seized narcotic drugs and substances.

Section 57

Section 57- This Section deals with the report of arrest and seizure. It states that whenever any official authorised by the government makes an arrest or seizure under this Act, he shall prepare a report of all the particulars of that arrest or seizure, to his superior within the next 48 hours. 

The case of Dilbagh Singh vs. State of Punjab (2017), held that Section 57 is not mandatory in nature, and a substantial compliance is sufficient.

Arguments advanced 

The appellant in the present case, was represented by Ms. Kamini Jaiswal. It was submitted that on the basis of the evidence on record, there arose no case for conviction and sentence. It was argued that the appellant, while being about 70 years of age, had initiated some proceedings against the police officers in the past, due to which they must be biassed against her. The counsel further argued that no independent witnesses were examined, as claimed by the policemen, and only the officials were examined as witnesses, despite several independent witnesses already being present there. 

It was also contended that there existed a violation of Section 52 and Section 57 of the NDPS Act, since the police officers failed to inform her about her right to be searched in the presence of a gazetted officer and such officer was made available only when she herself asked for the same. Furthermore, it was pointed out that along with the material discrepancies in the statement of the witness, there was also a delay in sending the sample of poppy husk for its examination. According to the charge sheet prepared, the sample was taken on 19th february 1988, whereas it was sent to the office of the chemical examiner on 23rd february 1988. What took place in this period was not answered by the prosecution.

Another major contention which the counsel for the appellant pointed out was that the prosecution was not able to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt on the basis of evidence recorded, which said that the appellant was in conscious possession of the poppy husk. However, as per the submission, the appellant was found to be sitting on two bags on the road, and when questioned, she stated that the same contained poppy husk. Therefore, it was contended that the fact that the appellant was sitting on two bags on an open road, must be the only allegation against her. It cannot be inferred that the appellant was in possession of the contraband, that is, poppy husk.

Judgement of the case

Having gotten no relief from either the Trial Court or the High Court, the appellant filed an appeal by special leave to the Supreme Court. The Apex Court decided that the appellant was indeed in conscious possession of the poppy husk and all the procedures carried out in the process were done in good faith and in accordance with what is prescribed under the NDPS Act. No merit was found in the appellant’s contentions and hence, the appeal was dismissed.

Rationale behind the judgement

The Supreme Court examined the evidence on record and the relevant provisions of the NDPS act, which suggested that the appellant was sitting beside the road and on seeing the police approaching she turned her face towards the village. When the Sub-Inspector questioned her regarding the contents of the bag, she replied that the bag contained poppy husk. This fact was specifically mentioned by Sub Inspector Uttam Singh in his statement. The court found that though there was an objection to his statement during the cross-examination, no further suggestion was made by the appellant. Moreover, the court was affirmed of the fact that the appellant was in possession of the bags which contained poppy husk. 

The court regarded the contention of appellant that Sections 52 to 57 of NDPS Act has been violated, as unfounded and lacking justification, since the recovery of poppy husk was made from the bags of the appellant. The Court took reference from decisions in the cases of Madan Lal v. State of Himachal Pradesh (2003), Supdt. And Remembrancer of Legal Affairs, W.B. v. Anil Kumar Bhunja (1979) and Gunwant Lal v. State of M.P (1972). 

In the case of Madan Lal v. State of Himachal Pradesh (2003), the court was of the opinion that the issue of conscious possession of contraband goods has to be determined on the basis of the facts and circumstances of each case. The fact that determined the conscious possession of contraband substance in the aforesaid case, was that all the accused persons were travelling in the same vehicle and were known to each other. There was no explanation regarding why they were travelling in the same vehicle, despite the mode of transport not being a public transport. Section 20(b) of the NDPS Act declares the possession of contraband articles as an offence punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a maximum term of ten years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh. It is highlighted under this Section, that in order to consider the possession as illegal, conscious possession must exist. However, this does not imply that mere custody is sufficient. It must be accompanied with an awareness of the nature of such possession. To prove the element of possession in a case, mens rea is an important factor. 

The court also referred to the case of Supdt. And Remembrancer of Legal Affairs, W.B. v Anil Kumar Bhunja (1979), wherein it was found that the word “possession” holds various meanings in different contexts. It is not possible to find a precise definition of the word possession which could completely fit in every situation with respect to all statutes. 

The Apex Court, in another case of Gunwantlal v State of Madhya Pradesh (1972) held that the possession of contraband goods does not necessarily have to be physical, but can be constructive (a different person has power and control over the person who is in physical possession of such contraband goods). Furthermore, the court held that once the possession of goods is established, it is the duty of the accused to prove how he came into the possession of such goods. 

Since, when questioned regarding the contents of the bag, the appellant herself admitted that it contained poppy husk, the Court was positive of the fact that she was in conscious possession of the poppy husk and it did not consider any argument raised by the appellant against it. Another point which the appellant raised was with respect to the biasness exhibited by the police officers. To prove this bias, it was stated that Sub-Inspector Uttam Singh, along with the other officials had raided the house of the appellant. The Court observed that if the house was raided with a mala fide intention, the officers must have found something incriminating, but that was not the case and therefore rejected their argument of biasness. 

One major contention of the appellant centred around the violation of Section 52 and Section 57 of the NDPS Act. With respect to these, the Hon’ble Supreme Court noted that both the Trial Court as well as the High Court found the appellant under the conscious possession of the contraband goods and thus the allegation of not stating the purpose of search and grounds of arrest, is merely theoretical, lacking any material facts to substantiate it. The Court found that the appellant was in conscious possession of the contraband goods and was searched for the same, which is why she took the defence of Section 52 and Section 57 of the NDPS Act. The violation of the NDPS Act was clearly known to the appellant and the fact that she herself asked to be searched in front of a gazetted officer did not make any valid point. This fact was not sufficient to overturn the finding of the Trial Court and the High Court, and thus no biases can be proved by the appellant against the DSP, who was a gazetted officer, and the lady officer present at the time of search.

The appellant also argued about the violation of Section 50 of the NDPS Act. The Court found this contention to be unreasonable, while taking reference to a well-settled decision, in the case of State of Haryana v. Mai Ram (2008), which emphasised on the conditions laid down under Section 50, for the purpose of conducting a search. It can be inferred from this Section, that it applies to situations which involve personal search of a person, and does not include under its ambit, the search of premises, vehicles, bags or containers. The same was reiterated in State of Punjab v. Baldev Singh (1999)

With respect to the issue of delay in sending the samples, the Court found it to be not maintainable. The Court cited the case of Hardip Singh v. state of Punjab (2008), wherein there was a gap of 40 days between the seizure and sending of samples to the chemical examiner. It was however held in this case, that such a delay will not affect the overall judgement. In the present case, the poppy husk was recovered from the possession of the appellant on 19th February 1998, but was sent to the chemical examiner only on 23rd February 1998. The Court held that this delay will not impact the fact that the recovery of poppy husk was made from the appellant. 

Finally, the Court also considered the fact that there was no examination of independent witnesses, and noted that there was only one independent witness present at the time of recovery of the concerned goods. Furthermore, this witness was examined as a witness on behalf of the appellant. Since there came forth no information regarding the presence of any other independent witness during the search and recovery, the contention that the same was invalid, does not hold good. 

Analysis of the case 

The key fact of the case was that the appellant was charged for possessing poppy husk without any approval from a competent department and therefore, was arrested by the police search party. After the matter went to court, the appellant submitted the argument that the procedures mentioned under Section 52 and Section 57 of the NDPS Act were not followed, and the appellant was not in possession of the concerned substances. The Court, after examining the facts and arguments of the parties, was of the opinion that no provision of the NDPS Act was violated.Further, court held that . The appellant was in conscious possession of the banned substances. The court took reference from various cases, primarily, Madan Lal v. State of Himachal Pradesh (2003), Supdt. And Remembrancer of Legal Affairs, W.B. v. Anil Kumar Bhunja (1979) and Gunwant Lal v. State of M.P (1972), to deliver this judgement. 

One of the major findings of this Court is with respect to the possession of any contraband goods. The court was of the opinion that mere physical possession of such goods shall not be enough to confirm the fact that the accused was aware of the same. The possession must be established beyond reasonable doubt and once done, the burden of proof lies on the accused. Further, as seen in the case of Naresh Kumar alias Nitu v State of Himachal Pradesh (2017), the presumption against the culpability of the accused under Section 35, and possession of illicit articles under Section 54 (presumption from possession of illicit articles), are rebuttable and not required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. 

The judgement highlights the significance of how to deal with future cases under the NDPS Act. It lays down the importance of interpreting various provisions of the Act, by the judiciary, and also provides directions for the same. This case also highlights the need for strict procedures and enforcement mechanisms. This would contribute to addressing offences concerned with drugs, in a better manner, which is the need of the hour. 

Conclusion 

Drug abuse is one of the major issues faced by India. The findings of this judgement will aid in improving the way the NDPS Act is interpreted and implemented, which plays a crucial role in this fight against drug abuse. The use of harmful, illegal drugs not only has a bad impact on the society, but it also results in an increase in crime in the country. People tend to face domestic violence, financial crises etc., as a result of drug abuse. The long term use of drugs also leads to damages in physical, as well as mental abilities, such as decision-making, behaviour, memory, etc. 

Despite the present legislations, India has developed into a major hub for banned drugs. According to a report by the National Drugs Dependence Treatment Centre, AIIMS, it was found that around 3.1 crore of the population of the country is reported to be cannabis users and 1.08 crore people are reported to be sedative users. To tackle this problem, the Government of India has launched a campaign by the name of “Nasha Mukt Bharat,” to focus on community outreach programs, which would hopefully further contribute to prevent the use of drugs and other psychotropic substances.

It needs to be understood that mere implementation of laws or establishment of rehabilitation centres or treatment centres are not enough. People will have to motivate themselves and also raise awareness of the disastrous effects of drug and substance abuse. The issue of drug abuse in India requires immediate attention and action, to help alleviate its adverse impact on individuals, families, and the society. Government agencies, healthcare providers, educators, and communities can collectively make efforts to combat drug abuse. Implementation of targeted interventions, providing a supportive environment and taking preventive measures can contribute to eventually eradicating the issue of drug abuse in India, and striving towards a healthier nation. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the substances prohibited under the NDPS Act?

Under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985  the use of the narcotic drugs and substances that are non-medical and non-scientific in nature are strictly prohibited. It also prohibits any kind of activities related to the use of these narcotic drugs and substances, including their agriculture such as coca plants (which is source of cocaine), opium poppies (which is a source of opium, heroin, etc), and cannabis plants (which is a source of charas, ganja, etc).

Is an offence under the NDPS Act, bailable or non bailable?

Section 37 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 states that the offences under this Act are non-bailable. A non-bailable offence refers to any kind of offence committed, wherein a police cannot grant bail on arrest and the power of granting bail is with the court. In case of an offence under the NDPS Act, if the court finds that the accused is not guilty of the offence committed, or the accused is not likely to be involved in any kind of sale/purchase of narcotic drugs and substances, bail can be granted by the court. 

When is the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking celebrated?

The international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking is celebrated every year on 26th June, to strengthen action and cooperation in achieving a world free of drug abuse. For 2024, the theme, as set by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is, “The evidence is clear: invest in prevention”.

Are Section 52 and Section 57 of the NDPS Act, 1985 mandatory or directory?

The Supreme Court, in Gurbax Singh vs. State of Haryana (2001), held that Section 52 and Section 57 of the NDPS Act are not mandatory in nature, but only directory. In this case, there were no serious violations of Section 52 and Section 57. The prosecution presented evidence to prove that these provisions have been significantly complied with and the case of prosecution went on to be accepted.

Is cultivation of opium legal in India?

According to the Department of Revenue, India is one of the few nations which allows for the cultivation of opium. It is allowed because of the medical benefits it has to offer. The opium plant is the main source of opium gum, which contains several indispensable alkaloids such as morphine, which is a widely used painkiller.  

References

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