There seems to be no perceptible flaw in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) but a more practical and systematic method is required in the process of investigation, prosecution and the administration of Justice.
By Victor Chongtham
Geographically, Manipur is located in the neighborhood of the so called “golden triangle” for drugs i.e. Burma, Laos and Thailand and it’s porous boundaries. The smuggling of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances continues unabated since the last three decades. In recent times, citizens have become even aware of the term narco-terrorism and the reason why this is called so. The following points are necessary to understand the phenomenon.
- Wild and illicit opium cultivation is feasible in congenial environmental conditions within the region of Manipur state, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram.
- Opium is called “Black Gold” as enormous money is obtained from it by the drug-Mafia.
- There is a huge profit margin in smuggling heroin, for example, one kilogram of heroin can fetch over Rs. One Lac in New Delhi, two Lacs in Mumbai and about one million dollars in the streets of New York.
- The drug traffickers who can smuggle out a suit case full of heroin easily earn billions of dollars to meet all expenses involved in smuggling and can use the earned money in antisocial activities like for procuring weapons and explosives for terrorist activities.
- All over the world drug lords offer policemen and judges or given “Plomo-O-Plata” (Lead or Silver) – a bullet in the head or a bribe.
- If we consider the problem of narco-terrorism and drug addiction, the situation is very serious in our society which needs to be curbed by all means. We should make all the possible efforts for the same.
The problems of drug menace, NDPS related crimes, their investigations, prosecution and the administration of effective justice are prevalent all over the world. World Health Organization (WHO) and the criminal Justice System are highly concerned about the physical, social and economic health of the contemporary society. This can only be safeguarded by preventing the members of the society from the use/abuse of drugs and NDPS on one hand and on the other hand by bringing crime convictions in balance through effective investigation and trial of these cases. This will bring the culprits to book and shall help curb prevalent narco-terrorism in the society.
THE LAW AND THE FLAWS
The statutory control over narcotic drugs was exercised in India through a number of central and State enactments. The principal acts namely, the Opium Act, 1857 , the opium Act, 1878 and the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1930 were enacted a long time ago. With the passage of time and the developments in the field of illicit drug traffic and drug abuse at the National and International level, many deficiencies in the laws had come to the notice and subsequently the laws were amended in the 1985, 1989 and 2001 to provide deterrent punishments to the offenders and to bring the matter under control . But it is a matter of great concern that in spite of all efforts the desired results regarding crime conviction imbalance could not be obtained. In one of the Seminar cum training programme organized by the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi and the Govt. Of NCT of Delhi in the year 2006, it was unanimously accepted that there is no flaw as for as NDPS Act is concerned, however, there is a need of effective implementation of the same with more scientific methods to be adopted in the investigation and the administration of Justice process.
The views of the key speakers in the Seminar are briefly summarized below.
- The Drugs abuse and the trafficking of NDPS substance is a serious threat to the society in India as the joint families are disintegrating the counseling becomes a social responsibility and found the increasing numbers of drug addiction among women was on the increase and is multiplying there problems in the family and at the workplace. The challenge of this type of organised crime needs to be curbed with a heavy hand. Most of the speakers narrated that there is a nexus between drug mafia and the administration which needs to be dealt with sternly.
- The seminar discussed about the need of separate investigation and prosecuting agency for these cases seeing the seriousness of the crime. The them Hon’ble Chief Justice of India stated the legal provision are being evaded by the drug mafia. There should be more forceful implementation of the NDPS Act in India for the producers, procuress, carriers, addicts and the traffickers and mafia of these drugs substances.
- His excellency Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the President of India stressed in his speech that NDPS and the drug abuse problem is a major challenge and threat to the society. It is in fact a cold war among different nations .
- The investigation, prosecution and judicial process needs to be strengthened/speeded up for providing quick deterrent punishments to the deflators and violators. Rehabilitation of the convict and the counseling of the youth by parents and teachers is essential for preventing them from the use of such drugs.
The other ideas which emerged from the seminar were:
- When the police has to carry out raids during investigation of NDPS cases, the information somehow leaks out, which is highly damaging.
- There is leakage of these drugs from the police malkhana.
- The padding of these drugs takes place in some cases.
- Foreign Nationals are jumping bails very often in NDPS cases.
- Education about the ill effects of drugs is necessary right from the KG level students..
- As we are living in the very difficult period, it is in necessary to make the maximum use of Forensic Science in dealing with the NDPS cases.
There has been reports that in the narcotics/drugs and psychotropic substances business, politically motivated among North eastern insurgent groups organised groups of drug traffickers. These groups may involve government(s) who promote narcotic trafficking that eventually results in terrorism with specific intention to create chaotic, unrest and social imbalances.
For breaking up drug trafficking organizations, it is essential that there should be honest exchange of intelligence amongst law enforcement agencies. A strong will and determination is a must in checking the menace of drug trafficking by coming down heavily on those ring-leaders and drug lords.
We can curb the menace of drugs and bring the conviction rate higher and in this regard the following suggestions may be taken up:
- We should give effective counseling to the drug users at home, schools, workplace and through mass media.
- There should be no nexus of the Government administration with drug traffickers and mafia.
- The enforcement of NDPS Act should be more forcefully, honestly and in its letter and spirit.
- We should take least time in arrests, investigation, examinations in F.S.L., trial and judgements.
- The chain of custody should not have any breach.
- Rehabilitation of the convicts should be more effective.
- There should be no leakage of drugs from police custody and the defaulters should be severely punished.
- There should be no padding of drugs on innocent persons.
While experts and activists feel that there seems to be no perceptible flaw in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS), those engaged in the war on drugs should adopt a more practical and systematic method is the process of investigation, prosecution and the administration of justice.
(Victor Chongtham is a lawyer based in Imphal)