On December 13, 2021, Lok Sabha passed the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
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
In 2014, the Act was amended and the clause number of the definition for such illicit activities was changed. However, the section on penalty for financing these illicit activities was not amended and continued to refer to the earlier clause number of the definition. The Bill amends the section on penalty to change the reference to the new clause number.
This amendment will be deemed to have been in effect from May 1, 2014 (i.e., when the 2014 amendments came into effect)
2014 amendment to the NDPS Act 1985 allow a better medical access to 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.
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.