LS passes NDPS (Amendment) Bill to correct drafting error

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The Lok Sabha on Monday passed the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2021 with voice vote.

The NDPS (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 6, 2021 which seeks to replace the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021.

Moving the Bill for discussion, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that this Bill will amend the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 to correct a drafting error. The Act regulates certain acts such as manufacture, transport, and consumption related to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

Responding to debate, Sitharaman said that the retrospective aspect of the amendment was not substantive to amend the criminal laws.

She further said that this Bill was to correct an error made in the last amendment and after the High Court’s observations, the government had to bring this amendment through the Ordinance as the Parliament was not in session. The other High Courts asked for corrections in 2014, 2017 and the latest was by the Tripura High Court in June 2021, asking the government to correct the error.

She also said that some opposition members raised the drugs seizure at Mundra Port, the Narcotics Control Bureau was investigating the case and arrests were also made but later after the order of the Union Home Ministry, the case was transferred to the Investigation Agency for further probe.

Earlier, debating on the Bill, the NCP MP Supriya Sule urged the government not to act on the whims and fancies of one officer and bring in a concrete and comprehensive NDPS law if at all the government wants to fight this menace.

Noting that drug consumption is an illness, she further said that those who consume are arrested and those who sell these substances are out of the clutches of the law enforcing agencies.

Congress MP Manish Tewari said, “if this bill is accepted in the form in which the government has proposed it, it will nullify Article 20 of the Constitution.”

He also commented that if the proposed bill is passed, nobody in the country will be safe. Tewari supported the idea of the NDPS Act, but expressed his reservation on the “content of the proposed Bill”.

Noting that the Bill will not stand judicial scrutiny, the Congress MP asked the government to bring a Bill with further amendments.

“We will support a comprehensive Bill that helps eradicate drug menace, but an addict needs to go to rehab and not jail,” the NCP MP commented.

Shiv Sena lawmaker Arvind Sawant, while highlighting the ‘attack on the film makers’ in this regard, said that when Sushant Singh Rajput lost his life, BJP put up his posters in poll-bound Bihar to gain political benefit.

He also said that instead of remedial action, they went after the Maharashtra government and that entire Bollywood was given a bad name, Sawant said, adding that there should not be politics on drugs.

Referring to the arrest of the son of a Bollywood actor, the Shiv Sena MP said that in the recent recovery of drugs at the Mundra Port in Gujarat which is being run by Adani Ports, nobody spoke about it and the small amount of drugs recovered from a Cruise was widely publicized by the media.

DMK MP V. Kalanidhi while debating on the Bill said that actions have not been taken against people who sell or peddle drugs, but is rather taken against those who are found to be possessing small quantities.

BSP MP Danish Ali said that the proposed Bill has a provision of retrospective effect that will have a dangerous impact in the country. “We need to catch the root cause of the disease.”

Referring to the recent seizure of over 3000 kg of drugs at Mundra port, he further said that in most of the cases, actions are taken against the persons found with the possession of the drugs, but not against the drug lords and peddlers.

SP Member H.K. Hassan said that the liquor should also be brought under NDPS Act. He said that most of the time this Act is found to be used to threaten ordinary citizens. There should be strong provisions under this Act so that strict action can be taken against druglords and peddlers.

Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said there are various issues regarding the NDPS (Amendment) Bill and asked if the government is going to decriminalise consumption in the future?

“India has been constantly witnessing illegal drug trafficking of thousands of crores of rupees,” he further said and asked how will that problem be solved? He claimed there are wrongful cases filed in the name of drug trafficking and asked the government to clarify what is the difference between consumption and trafficking?

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