Report No. 155
1.3. Drug Trafficking and illicit use of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.-
The genesis and development of the Indian drug trafficking scenario are closely connected with the strategic and geographical location of India which has massive inflow of heroin and hashish from across the Indo-Pak border originating from "Golden Crescent" comprising of Iran, Afganistan and Pakistan which is one of the major illicit drug supplying areas of the world1. On the North Eastern side of the country is the "Gold Triangle" comprising of Burma, Loas and Thailand which is again one of the largest sources of illicit opium in the world.2
Nepal also is a traditional source of cannabis, both herbal and resinous.3 Cannabis is also of wide growth in some States of India. As far as illicit drug trafficking from and through India is concerned, these three sources of supply have been instrumental in drug trafficking. Prior to the enactment of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Ad, 1985, the statutory control over narcotic drugs was exercised in India through a number of Central and State enactments. The principal Central Acts were-(a) the Opium Act, 1857, (b) the Opium Act, 1878 and (c) the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1930.
The preamble to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 provides as under:
"An Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to narcotic drugs, to make stringent provisions for the control and regulation of operations relating to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, to provide for the forfeiture of property derived from, or used in, illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, to implement the provisions of the International Conventions on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and for matters connected therewith."
The Statement of Objects and Reasons for the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act) laid down as under:
"The statutory control over narcotic drugs is exercised in India through a number of Central and State enactments. The Principal Central Acts, namely, the Opium Act, 1857, The Opium Act, 1878 and the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1930 were enacted a long time ago. With the passage of time and the developments in the field of illicit drug traffic and drug abuse at national and international level many deficiencies in the existing laws have come to notice, some of which are indicated below:
(i) The scheme of penalties under the present Acts is not sufficiently deterrent to meet the challenge of well organised gangs of smugglers. The Dangerous Drugs Act, 1930 provides for a maximum term of imprisonment of three years with or without fine and four years imprisonment with or without fine with repeat offences.
Further, no minimum punishment is prescribed in the present laws, as a result of which drug traffickers have been sometimes let off by the courts with nominal punishment. The country has for the last few years been increasingly facing the problem of transit traffic of drugs coming mainly from some of our neighbouring countries and destined mainly to western countries.
(ii) The existing central laws do not provide for investing the officers of a number of important central enforcement agencies like narcotics, customs, central excise etc., with the power of investigation of offences under the said laws.
(iii) Since the enactment of the aforesaid three Central Acts a vast body of international law in the field of narcotics control has evolved through various international treaties and protocols. The Government of India has been a party to these treaties and conventions which entail several obligations which are not covered or are only partly covered by the present Acts.
(iv) During the recent years new drugs of addiction which have come to be known as psychotropic substances have appeared on the scene and posed serious problems to national governments. There is no comprehensive law to enable exercise of control over psychotropic substances in India in the manner as envisaged in the convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971 to which also India has acceded."
In view of what has been stated above, an urgent need was felt for the enactment of a comprehensive legislation on narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, which, inter alia, should consolidate and amend the existing laws relating to narcotic drugs, strengthen the existing controls over drug abuses, considerably enhance the penalties particularly for trafficking offences, make provisions for exercising effective control over psychotropic substances and make provisions for the implementation of international conventions relating to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, to which India is a party.
1. S.V. Joga Rao Law and Policy on Drug Trajficking A Phenomenological study with special reference to Bangalore City, 35 JILL (1993), p. 56.