May 28, 2024

By Ananya Dash

You might have come across a lot of chatter around the recent High-profile arrests with regards to the consumption of certain drugs and substances. But, have you ever wondered as to what legislation regulates and prescribes punishment for the same in India?

This article shall attempt to provide the reader an insight into certain important provisions and judgments with regards to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985(NDPS).

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 was enacted in the year 1985. The Narcotic Control Bureau, colloquially the NCB was set up under the Act with effect from 1986.

The intent behind introducing the act was to create a consolidated law that dealt specifically with the use, sale, and purchase of drugs and prescribed stringent punishments tackle the same. It was also enacted to enforce India’s treaty obligations under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

Image of a man smoking weed.


Section 2 of the NDPS act defines certain important terms as follows:

  1. Narcotic Drugs-It implies coca leaf, cannabis (hemp) ,opium  poppy straw or any manufactured drugs.
  2. Psychotropic Substances-It includes any substance, natural or synthetic or preparation of such a substance which is included in the list of psychotropic substances in the Schedule.

Commercial and Small Quantity

The distinction between Small and Commercial quantity of a Narcotic drug or Psychotropic substance plays a pivotal role in determining the quantum of the punishment

A small quantity is any quantity lesser than the quantity specified by the Central government.

Commercial quantity on the other hand is any quantity greater than that specified by the Central government


Chapter IV of the act majorly deals with offenses, penalties, and the punishments for those charged under the act. The punishment is rigorous including imprisonment and fines depending upon the quantity of the substances so found in possession.

Small Quantity-The punishment for use, sale and purchase of substances in small quantity is imprisonment up to 1 year or a fine of up to ten thousand rupees or both.

If the quantity is between small and commercial, punishment is up to 10 years and fine up to one lakh rupees.

Commercial Quantity-The punishment is rigorous imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of up to two lakh rupees.


The one aspect of the NDPS act that has been heavily discussed recently is concerning Bail for those charged under the act.

Section 37 of the NDPS act specifies that offenses are generally non-bailable but it is subject to limitations and exceptions prescribed under the section and the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

A Supreme Court bench of Justice D.Y, Chandrachud, and Justice B.V Nagarathna recently ruled that Bail cannot be granted to an accused under the NDPS act, merely on finding an absence of possession of the contraband on the accused.


With the exponential rise in Drug abuse within the country and subsequently the increase in the number of cases registered under the act, it becomes pertinent for the reader to keep a tab and follow the constant developments concerning the NDPS act.

The author is a first-year law student at National Law University Odisha

4 thoughts on “Decoding The NDPS Act 1985

  1. Today, while I was at work, my cousin stole my iphone and tested to see if it can survive a thirty foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

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