New Delhi, 3 Dec 2018: The Supreme Court today ruled that bulk possession of manufactured drugs without any valid authorization can be tried under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act).
A Bench of Justices NV Ramana, Mohan M Shantanagoudar and MR Shah also clarified that NDPS Act, should not be read in exclusion to Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.
It held that Section 80 of the NDPS Act clearly lays down that application of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act is not barred, and provisions of NDPS Act can be applied in addition to that of the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
The case was an appeal against a judgment of the Punjab & Haryana High Court.
The accused respondents were apprehended with “manufactured drugs” and convicted by the Trial Court for offences under Section 21 and Section 22 of the NDPS Act, 1985.
In appeal, the High Court observed that manufactured drugs, be it containing narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances, if manufactured by a manufacturer, must be tried under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and not under the NDPS Act, except those in loose form by way of powder, liquid etc. Aggrieved by the same, the State preferred to appeal to the Supreme Court.
At the outset, the Supreme Court in its judgment set out the objectives of the two statutes.
The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 was enacted to specifically prevent substandard drugs and to maintain high standards of medical treatment. It was mainly intended to curtail the menace of adulteration of drugs and also of production, manufacture, distribution and sale of spurious and substandard drugs, the Court noted.
On the other hand, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act was enacted by the Parliament with an object to control and regulate the operations relating to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
Thus, the Court concluded that while the Drugs and Cosmetics Act deals with drugs which are intended to be used for therapeutic or medicinal usage, the NDPS Act intends to curb and penalize the usage of drugs which are used for intoxication or for getting a stimulant effect.
In the instant case, the accused were found guilty of offences under NDPS Act by the trial court. However, the High Court held that since the case dealt with “manufactured drugs” the present respondents should be tried for the violation of provisions of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.
The Supreme Court held that it cannot agree with the decision of the High Court. Referring to Section 80 of the NDPS Act, the Court stated that the said provision makes it clear that application of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act is not barred, and provisions of NDPS Act can be applied in addition to that of the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
Further, the Court held that the provisions of NDPS Act are not in derogation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.
Placing reliance on the case of Union of India vs. Sanjeev V Deshpande, the Court held that
“the NDPS Act, should not be read in exclusion to Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. Additionally, it is the prerogative of the State to prosecute the offender in accordance with law. In the present case, since the action of the accusedRespondents amounted to a prima facie violation of Section 8 of the N.D.P.S Act, they were charged under Section 22 of the NDPS Act.”
The Court, thus, concluded that the decision rendered by the High Court holding that the accusedrespondents must be tried under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 instead of the NDPS Act, as they were found in possession of the “manufactured drugs”, does not hold good in law.
Citation: State of Punjab vs Rakesh Kumar, Supreme Court of India, Criminal Appeal No. 1512 of 2018, D/d