NDPS (Amendment) Bill, 2021

On December 13, 2021, Lok Sabha passed the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2021. It was a unusual amendment on just a sentence which alters numbering of the provisions.

About the 2021 Amendment

  • 2021 Bill amends the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.
  • It seeks to rectify a drafting anomaly, which was created by a 2014 amendment to the parent legislation.
  • Amendment comprises of a legislative declaration about what one section refers to. According to it, Section 2 clause (viiia) corresponds to clause (viiib) in Section 27, since 2014.

What is section 27?

Section 27A of the NDPS Act 1985, contains punishment provisions for financing illicit traffic and harbouring offenders.

About 2014 amendment

  • 2014 amendment to the NDPS Act 1985 allow a better medical access to narcotic drugs.
  • It defined “essential drugs” under Section 2(viii)a while under Section 9, it allowed the manufacture, transport, possession, sale, purchase, consumption, import inter-State, export inter-State, and use of essential narcotic drugs.

What was the issue with 2014 amendment?

  • Section 2(viii)a was already there in the NDPS Act, containing a catalogue of offences for which punishment is prescribed in Section 27A.
  • While defining “essential drugs” in 2014 amendment, section-2 of the act was re-numbered.
  • Thus, the catalogue of offences, which was originally listed under Section 2(viii)a, was now listed under Section 2(viii)b.

Background

This error was highlighted by a district judge in West Agartala. Tripura High Court had flagged the drafting error in June 2021, while hearing a reference made by the district court.  It also urged the Centre to rectify it. In 2016, an accused had asked for bail before special judge in West Tripura in Agartala, citing this omission.

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