NDPS Act and Drug Abuse

ndps act 1985

Drug abuse has become a universal concern for humanity. The illegal drugs have multifaced effects on health, society, and economy. It has become a growing concern for society.  One of the major reason for drug abuse is its presence. And sometimes, its glorification through media such as series and films. To combat such situations our society not only need health measures but also to control the regulation of such drugs. India is one of the major countries to supply the demand for illicit opium primarily for medical purpose. Also, India is located near major opium poppy growing areas. Which makes it vulnerable to drugs through trafficking/ transit route.

NDPS Act  (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance)


Article 47 of the Indian Constitution is the backbone of the NDPS act. It says ‘the state shall endeavour to prohibit the consumption of toxic drinks and other intoxicating drugs other than for medical purposes’.  State and Central have laid down several enactments from time to time. From principal central acts, namely the Opium Act, 1857, the Opium Act, 1878 and Dangerous Drug Act, 1930. However, With the passage of time, the advancement in the regulation of illicit drug resulted in substance abuse. Moreover, the enactments in force, at that time, found deficiencies for combating the situation. To fill the deficiencies of the earlier acts, comprehensive legislation was passed with amended provisions. Later, Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance bill, 1985 was enacted as Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act, 1985.


The principal objective of the act was to consolidate and amend the earlier provisions regarding Narcotic Drugs; to

  • Make strict provisions regarding the regulation of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substance.
  • Provide for the forfeiture of property derived from, or used in, the regulation of illicit drugs.
  • Implement the decision taken in international conventions relating to illicit drugs regulations.

Functions and Powers

The Act executes many different kinds of function. From setting up the proper authority to executing the policies.  However, Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 of the act deals with the functions. However, The various provisions enumerated in chapters brings about the core of the Act.

  • Chapter 2 – Authorities and Officers

Section 4 of the Act authorizes the Central Govt to take measures regarding the prevention and control of drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking. Whereas, it includes identification, education, treatment, aftercare, rehabilitation and social integration of the drug addict. Also, subsection 3 to section 4 authorizes the central government to constitute a hierarchy of authorities to carry out different functions of the Act.

While section 4 talks about the control and regulations by an authority. Section 5 and 7 talks about the officers of Central and State government respectively responsible for the functions. And, Section 6 empowers Central Government to make an advisory committee to give advice on such matters.

  • Chapter 3 – Prohibition, Control, and regulations

The Act prohibits the cultivation and gathering of (i) coca plants, (ii) opium poppy or cannabis plant ( sec- 8). It also bans the manufacturing, sale, and purchase of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substance.  Further, Act empowers the Central Government to permit and regulate by rules; (i) sale of opium or opium derivatives manufactured in Central Government’s factory for export from India or to state government. (ii) the manufacture of the drug from the material which they make lawfully possess. It excludes the manufacture of medical opium or another preparation containing the same drug.

Also, the State government may by rules permit (i)the cultivation, production, manufacture, possession, transport, import inter-State, export inter-State, sale, purchase, and consumption of cannabis (Except Charas). (ii) the manufacturing of medical opium from the material for which the maker is lawfully entitled to possess. (iii) the manufacture and possession of opium, lawfully possessed by an addict registered with the state government. But such opium must be used for personal consumption.

Offences and Penalties – Chapter IV

Section 15 to 40 lays down the provisions regarding offences and their penalties. The offences must be related to the violation of the prohibitions enumerated under this act. Such violation includes cultivation, production, regulation,  sale, purchase, import & export, etc. All such offences are triable by the Special courts. Punishment for the first offence is 10 to 20 years of imprisonment. And, for the subsequent offence 15 to 30 years.

Personal consumption

The Amendment of 1989, mandates the death penalty for the subsequent offence involving a contravention of more than a certain amount of drug. However, the Act differentiates between possession for personal consumption and trafficking. The punishment for the former is somewhat diluted. Hence, punishment for the former being limited to 6 to 12 months. The quantity for such offences must be small as prescribed by the act.

Cultivation & Use of Cannabis Plant (Section- 20)

Section 20 of the Act provides for punishment for contravention of provisions in relation to Cannabis plant. The cultivation of any cannabis plant in contravention of the provisions of the act is punishable by rigorous imprisonment up to 10 years and a fine up to Rs.1,00,000 or both. Whereas, any use of Cannabis plant including purchase, sale, possession, manufacturing in small quantity is punishable up to 6 – 12 months and fine up to 10 thousand or both.  Whereas, the quantity is higher than small and lower than the commercial quantity, rigorous imprisonment up to 10 years and fine up to 1 lacs or both. Further, in a case where quantity is higher than the commercial quantity, imprisonment can extend from 10 to 20 years and fine up to 2 lacs or both.

List of Drugs and Quantity

Drug Quantity and punishment
Rigorous imprisonment from 6 to 12 months and fine up 1000 or both. Small quantity Rigorous imprisonment up to 10 years and fine 1 lacs or both. Commercial quantity Rigorous imprisonment from 10 to 20 years and fine up to 2 lacs or both.
Heroin 5mg 250mg
Opium 25mg 2.5kg
Morphine 5mg 250gms
Ganja 1000mg 20kgs
Charas 100mg 1kg
Cocaine 2mg 100gms
Methadone 2mg 50gms
Amphetamine 2mg 50gms
LSD 0.002gm 0.1gm


The NDPS act treats both the Drug trafficker and Drug user at par. The quantity set by the government for personal consumption is so small. It does not even suffice for single use. The amendment to the act was a blessing in disguise. Hence, It somewhat diluted the provision of the act making it less stringent.

The rate of acquittal is high and matter of great concern. To control the problem of increasing quantity of drug in the market,  the Parliament provided this act. Parliament made it an unbailable offence under section 37. Also, it has provided for some exceptions.

Thus, it provides for stringent punishment for the guilty while protecting the innocent.


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