NDPS Act: What is the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act?

NDPS Act: TheNarcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act prohibits a person from the production/manufacturing/cultivation, possession, sale, purchasing, transport, storage, and/or consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance. The NDPS (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was passed by both the Houses of Parliament to rectify a drafting error created by a 2014 amendment to the original legislation.
Updated: Jan 10, 2022 20:29 IST

NDPS Act: The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, or the NDPS Act prohibits a person from the production/manufacturing/cultivation, possession, sale, purchasing, transport, storage, and/or consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.

NDPS (Amendment) Bill 2021

Introduced by the Union Finance Minister, The 2021 NDPS (Amendment) Bill seeks to rectify a drafting error created by a 2014 amendment to the original legislation.

Prior to the 2014 amendment, clause (viiia) of section 2 of the NDPS Act, contained sub-clauses (i) to (v), wherein the term 'illicit traffic' had been defined. This clause was re-lettered as clause (viiib) in the 2014 amendment as a new clause (viiia) in section 2 defining 'essential narcotic drugs' was inserted. However, inadvertently consequential change was not carried out in section 27A of the NDPS Act.

Hence, to have a correct interpretation and implementation of the NDPS Act, it was decided to rectify the anomaly in section 27A of the Act by substituting 'clause (viiib)' in place of 'clause (viiia)' in section 27A.

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

2014 Amendment of the NDPS Act

1- The amendment eased restrictions on Essential Narcotic Drugs such as Morphine,  Fentanyl and Methadone to make them more accessible for use in pain relief and palliative care. 

2- The amendment removed state barriers in transporting and licensing the drugs and made them centralised. 

NDPS Act: Key Highlights

1- Enacted in 1985, the Act has been amended thrice since then-- 1998, 2001 and 2014. 

2- The narcotic drugs include coca leaf, cannabis, opium and poppy straw while the psychotropic substances refer to any natural or synthetic material or any salt or preparation that is protected by the Psychotropic Substances Convention of 1971.

3- The offences under the Act are severe due to the consequences of drug abuse and its trafficking. The offenders may serve a jail term between one to twenty years and a fine depending upon the crime they have committed. 

4- Abetment, attempts to commit an offence and criminal conspiracy attract the same punishment to that of the offence while preparation to commit an offence attracts half the punishment. Additionally, repeated offenders may get one and a half times the penalty and even death sentence in rare of the rarest cases. 

5- All the offences under the Act are non-bailable and the property acquired from a person from drug-related offences can be seized, frozen and forfeited by the government, provided that the offender has been convicted under the Act. 

Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) 

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) was set up in 1986 through the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) Act. The agency coordinates with various ministries, other offices and State/Central enforcement agencies in connection with drug law enforcement and matters related to drug abuse. 


Smoking Cannabis in India is known since 2000 BC and is mentioned in Atharvaveda. Till 1985, all forms of Cannabis (marijuana, hashish and bhang) were legally sold in India. In the year 1961, the United States began campaigning worldwide against the usage of all drugs, following the adoption of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The move was however opposed by India for around 25 years and with the increased pressure in the 1980s from America, the Rajiv Gandhi government enacted the NDPS Act.

On 23 August 1985, this bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha. The Bill was passed by both the Houses of Parliament. On 16 September 1985, the then President Giani Zail Singh gave his assent to the Bill and the Bill became an Act. On 14 November 1985, the act came into effect. Since then the Act has been amended thrice (1998, 2001 and 2014). 

The Act not only applies to all Indian citizens but are also applicable to all Indian citizens living outside India. It is also applicable to all the people who are on ships and aircraft and are registered in India. 

NDPS Act: Definitions

The Act will be called Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 and extends to the whole of India and applies to all the Indian citizens wherever they may be. The Act will come into force when the Centre will notify the Act in the Official Gazette by notification. 


a. Addict- Any person who is dependent on any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance. 

b. Board- The Central Board of Excise and Customs constituted under the Central
Boards of Revenue Act, 1963. 

c. Cannabis (Charas, Ganja, Any mixture)- Charas (separated resin of Cannabis) in any form, crude or purified, obtained from the cannabis plant and includes hashish oil. Ganja (flowering part of the Cannabis, excluding seeds and leaves) in any form and whether the name they may be designated. Any Mixture, with or without material, of any of the above forms of Cannabis and drink prepared.  

d. Cocoa derivate (crude cocaine, ecgonine, cocaine and preparations)- Crude cocaine, any extract of coca leaf which can be used, directly or indirectly, for the manufacture of cocaine. Ecgonine and its derivatives from which cocoa can be recovered. Cocaine, the methyl ester of benzoyl-ecgonine and its salts. Preparations of more than 0.1% of cocaine. 

e. Cocoa leaf- The leaf of the coca plant except for a leaf from which all ecgonine, cocaine and any other
ecgonine alkaloids have been removed and any mixture (not more than 0.1% of cocaine) thereof with or without any neutral material. 

f. Conveyance- Any conveyance including aircraft, vehicle or vessel. 

g. International Convention- Adopted by the UN in March 1961. 

h. Manufacture-  All the processes other than production by which such drugs or substances may be obtained, refined, transformed and made of preparation other than in a pharmacy on prescription. 

i. Manufactured drug- All coca derivatives, medicinal cannabis, opium derivatives and poppy straw concentrate. 

j. Medicinal cannabis- Any extract or tincture of cannabis. 

k. Narcotics Commissioner- Commissioner appointed under section 5. 

l. Narcotic Drug- coca leaf, cannabis (hemp), opium, poppy straw and includes all manufactured drugs. 

m. Opium- The coagulated juice of the opium poppy and any mixture, with or without any neutral material. It must not include any preparation containing more than 0.2 per cent. of morphine. 

n. Opium derivative- Medicinal opium, Prepared opium, Phenanthrene alkaloids, Diacetylmorphine and all preparations not more than 0.2% of morphine or any diacetylmorphine.  

What is the Official Secrets Act?

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