Two separate pieces of legislations are likely to be piloted to amend the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985. While one will replace a September ordinance, the other will bring substantive changes like decriminalisation of personal consumption of drugs and casting a wider net on ‘controlled substances’.
ET has learnt that the draft legislation on substantive amendments to the NDPS Act, 1985, is likely to propose expansion in categories of precursor or controlled substances, from the present 23, citing their illicit use in manufacturing of drugs and psychotropic substances, said people familiar with the discussions.
Precursors are chemicals which also have many legitimate uses. These chemicals are regulated balancing the need for their legitimate trade with the need to prevent their diversion to illicit channels, they added.
The NDPS Act empowers the government to declare any substance as a ‘controlled substance’ after considering its possible use in the production or manufacture of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances.
“Law enforcement agencies are of the view that the number of chemicals in the scheduled list should be increased as traffickers find it easy to circumvent the existing rules by importing or exporting chemicals outside the list and then use it to manufacture psychotropic substances,” said a senior government official.
With synthetic chemicals and drugs being produced in large quantities in various, the Centre plans to hold discussions with drugs and chemical manufacturers, state drug controlling authorities and other stakeholders, to stop diversion of precursors and discuss proposed amendments with states, ET has learnt.
Besides the move to decriminalise personal consumption of small quantities of drugs, narcotics and psychotropic substances, the amendments may bring stringent penal provisions against drug traffickers. The Narcotics Control Bureau has however sought clarity on agencies and departments which will be responsible for rehabilitation and deaddiction programmes. As first reported by ET on November 12, the government may introduce the NDPS amendment bill in the upcoming Parliament session.
“The amendments planned are to ‘rationalise the sentence structure to ensure that while traffickers of significant quantities of drugs are punished with deterrent sentences, the addicts and those who commit less serious offences are sent for rehabilitation or sentenced to less severe punishment’,” said another official.