SC strengthens anti-narcotics law
The Supreme court stated that the amount of neutral substance in the mixture will be included along with the actual weight of the banned substance in order to determine whether it is a small or commercial quantity under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
The Supreme Court in an important verdict has strengthened an anti-narcotics law. The apex court has stated that the punishment for drug possession will not depend on the quantity of drug present but even traces of an offending drug in the consignment will be sufficient to declare the entire quantity as an offending drug.
The court further explained that the amount of neutral substance in the mixture will be included along with the actual weight of the banned substance in order to determine whether it is a small or commercial quantity under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
Under the NDPS Act, the punishment for possessing the commercial quantity of banned drugs is higher than possessing a smaller quantity. The decision came in the wake of the increasing drug problem among young people in India.
Judgement by 3-Judge bench:
A 3-judge bench consisting of Indira Banerjee, Arun Mishra, and MR Shah stated that in case of seizure of mixture narcotics drugs with one or more neutral substances, the quantity of the neutral substance must also be taken into consideration along with the weight of the offending drug in order to determine the small or commercial quantity.
The court also stated that the illicit drugs are rarely sold in pure form and are almost mixed with other substances such as caffeine is mixed with heroin so that heroine vaporizes at a lower rate.
SC Judgement: Key highlights:
• Supreme Court described NDPS act as a special law which has the purpose to serve and combat the problem which is destroying the public and national health.
• Court also stated that the punishment part in drug trafficking is important but preventing trafficking is more important.
• Court described the use of drugs as a crime against society and mentioned that it must be dealt with iron hands.
• The top court acknowledged that the drug problem is international and the mafia is working throughout the world.
• The court rejected the challenge made by the petitioners. It stated that while determining the commercial or small quantity of mixture, the weight of neutral substance must also be included along with the content of the offending drugs.
SC on 2008 verdict in case of E. Michael Raj:
A 3-Judge bench also commented on the two- bench verdict of 2008 in the case of E. Michael Raj vs Intelligence Bureau, Narcotic Control Bureau case. The judges described it as ‘not a good law’ for stating that in the mixture of narcotic drugs, only the weight of the banned substance was relevant to determine whether it will be small quantity or commercial quantity.