Understanding of the quantity – punishment matrix
The provisions of the NDPS Act were amended by the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Act, 2001 (Act 9 of 2001) (w.e.f. 2.10.2001), which rationalized the punishment structure under the NDPS Act by providing graded sentences linked to the quantity of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances carried. Thus, by the Amending Act, the sentence structure changed drastically. ‘Small quantity’ and ‘commercial quantity were defined under Section 2(xxiiia) and Section 2(viia) respectively. New Section 21 also provides for proportionate sentence for possessing small, intermediate and commercial quantities of offending material. As per Entry 56 of the Notification dated 19.10.2001 issued by the Central Government which deals with heroin, small quantity has been mentioned as 5 gms. and commercial quantity has been mentioned as 250 gms. So, the basic question for decision is whether the contravention involved in this case is small, intermediate or commercial quantity under Section 21 of the NDPS Act, and whether the total weight of the substance is relevant or percentage of heroin content translated into weight is relevant for ascertaining the quantity recovered from the accused.
The relevant Sections of the NDPS Act have to be looked into, which are as under:
Section 2 (viia) (inserted by Amending Act 9 of 2001 w.e.f. 2.10.2001)
“Commercial quantity’, in relation to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, means any quantity greater than the quantity specified by the Central Government by notification in the Official Gazette;”
Section 2(xxiiia) (inserted by Amending Act 9 of 2001 w.e.f 2.10.2001)
“’Small quantity’, in relation to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, means any quantity lesser than the quantity specified by the Central Government by notification in the Official Gazette;”
“’Opium derivative’ means –
(a) Medicinal opium, that is, opium which has undergone the processes necessary to adapt it for medicinal use in accordance with the requirements of the Indian Pharmacopoeia or any other Pharmacopoeia notified in this behalf by the Central Government, whether in powder form or granulated or otherwise or mixed with neutral materials;
(b) Prepared opium, that is, any product of opium by any series of operations designed to transform opium into an extract suitable for smoking and the dross or other residue remaining after opium is smoked;
(c) Phenanthrene alkaloids, namely, morphine, codeine, the baine and their salts;
(d) Diacetylmorphine, that is, the alkaloid also known as diamorphine or heroin and its salts; and
(e) All preparations containing more than 0.2 per cent of morphine or containing any diacetylmorphine; Section 2 (xi) “’Manufactured drug means –
(a) All coca derivatives, medicinal connabis, opium derivatives and poppy straw concentrate;
(b) Any other narcotic substance or preparation which the Central Government may, having regard to the available information as to its nature or to a decision, if any, under any International Convention, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare to be a manufactured drug;
but does not include any narcotic substance or preparation which the Central Government may, having regard to the available information as to its nature or to a decision, if any, under any International Convention, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare not to be a manufactured drug.”
Section 21. Punishment for contravention in relation to manufactured drugs and preparations [substituted by the Amending Act 9 of 2001, w.e.f. 2.10.2001]
“Whoever, in contravention of any provision of this Act or any rule or order made or condition of licence granted thereunder, manufactures, possesses, sells, purchases, transports, imports inter-State, exports inter-State or uses any manufactured drug or any preparation containing any manufactured drug shall be punishable, –
(a) where the contravention involves small quantity, with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees, or with both;
(b) where the contravention involves quantity, lesser than commercial quantity but greater than small quantity, with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees;
(c) where the contravention involves commercial quantity, with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may extend to twenty years and shall also be liable to fine which shall not be less than one lakh rupees but which may extend to two lakh rupees :
Provided that the court may, for reasons to be recorded in the judgment, impose a fine exceeding two lakh rupees.
As a consequence of the Amending Act, the sentence structure underwent a drastic change. The Amending Act for the first time introduced the concept of commercial quantity’ in relation to narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances by adding clause (viia) in Section 2, which defines this term as any quantity greater than a , quantity specified by the Central Government by notification in the Official Gazette. Further, the term ‘small quantity’ is defined in Section 2, clause (xxiiia), as any quantity lesser than the quantity specified by the Central Government by notification in the Official Gazette. Under the rationalised sentence structure, the punishment would vary depending upon whether the quantity of offending material is ‘small quantity’, ‘commercial quantity’ or something in-between [AIR 2008 SC 1720]
In the case of Ouseph alias Thankachan v. State of Kerala, (2004) 4 SCC 446, this Court in para 8 has held as under :
“The question to be considered by us is whether the psychotropic substance was in a small quantity and if so, whether it was intended for personal consumption. The words “small quantity” have been specified by the Central Government by the notification dated 23-7-1996. Learned counsel for the State has brought to our notice that as per the said notification small quantity has been specified as 1 gram. If so, the quantity recovered from the appellant is far below the limit of small quantity specified in the notification issued by the Central Government. It is admitted that each ampoule contained only 2 ml and each ml contains only .3 mg. This means the total quantity found in the possession of the appellant was only 66 mg. This is less than 1/10th of the limit of small quantity specified under the notification.”
Solved problems under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985
- What are the procedural safeguards must be followed under NDPS Act
- Negation of bail is the rule and its grant an exception u/s 37(1)of NDPS Act- Explain
- Show the limitations for granting bail for an offence u/s 20(b)(ii)(C)of the NDPS Act?
- Explain the result of non-production of material evidence by using Sec 465 Cr.P.C in NDPS case?
- Whether it is must for officers of gazetted rank to comply with Sec 42 OR analyse Sec 41 & 42 of NDPS Act
- Explain the concept of “small quantity” and ‘commercial quantity’ under the NDPS Act
- Whether Sections 52, 55 and 57 of the NDPS Act is mandatory or directory?
- Explain the presumption available against an accused of culpability U/S 35 and 54 of NDPS Act
The Special Courts constituted under the N.D.P.S. Act perform the same functions in respect of the offences under the N.D.P.S. Act which the Magistrate performs in respect of other offences under the Indian Penal Code-Explain with citation of law.