Social justice ministry calls for rehabilitation not imprisonment of drug users
The Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry has recommended decriminalising possession of small quantities of drugs for personal consumption in its review of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act submitted to the revenue department, according to an NDTV report.
There is currently no provision for relief or exemption under the NDPS Act and it only gives addicts immunity from prosecution and imprisonment if they volunteer for rehabilitation.
The ministry has said drug users and addicts should be treated as “victims” who are in need of de-addiction and rehabilitation. Criminal action should not be taken against them.
The NDPS Act has been in the news recently since the arrest of Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan in a drug-related case. The Narcotics Control Bureau had said it had recovered 13 grams of cocaine, 5 grams of mephedrone, 22 pills of MDMA – all categorised as “intermediate quantities” – and 21 grams of charas, which falls in the “small quantity” category.
The social justice ministry in its recommendations suggested that compulsory treatment in government centres must be given to those caught with small quantities for personal consumption instead of a jail term.
Possession of drugs is a criminal offence in India and Section 27 of the NDPS Act prescribes imprisonment of up to a year or a fine of up to Rs 20,000, or both, for consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.
According to the NDPS Act, “small quantities” refer to amounts less than what has been specified for different substances by the Centre in the Official Gazette. In the case of cannabis, possession of up to 100 grams is considered a “small quantity” while for cocaine, the government set a limit of “small quantity” at 2 grams.