Plea challenges expansion of definition of drug

Delhi High Court. File

Delhi High Court. File

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to respond to a petition challenging the expansion of the definition of a drug under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

Petitioner Rajeev T.M., a resident of Kerala, has challenged two notifications of 2001 and 2009 issued by the Ministry of Finance under the NDPS Act, saying the notifications were issued in excess of conferred authority.

‘New category of offence’

The petition submitted that the two notifications under Section 2 (viia) and 2 (xxiiia) of the NDPS Act have the effect of creating a new category of offence by penalising the preparation of a drug on a par with the drug itself.

“There is no rational nexus between the classification created by these notifications and the object of the NDPS Act, and therefore, there is a violation of Article 14 (equality before law) of the Constitution,” the petition said.

“The notifications seek to create a classification of drug users and quantities based on the total weight of the drug [including the weight of neutral material] and not on the weight of the pure drug content, which is the correct indicator of whether a quantity is a commercial quantity or a small quantity intended for personal consumption,” it argued.

Quantity in question

“As per the NDPS Act, a person would be criminalised at the level of small quantity for possession of, say, 4 grams of heroin, the notifications enhance this criminalisation to the level of commercial quantity [which increases the incarceration to as much as 20 years] if the said 4 grams of heroin is diluted by the addition of neutral material,” it said.

“The application of the notifications creates a situation where there would be no rational nexus between this aforesaid objective of rationalising sentencing by taking a reformative approach towards treating addicts and the proposed classification which places both addicts and drug traffickers on even footing as long as the addict dilutes their drug more than the trafficker,” it said.

It contended that the NDPS Act requires only the pure narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances to be considered for determining quantities and therefore, the notifications are wrong.

The plea said the petitioner is facing prosecution in a case under the NDPS Act and is currently out on bail.

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Printable version | May 19, 2022 12:33:46 pm |