• Section 8 (c) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) 1985 says,
  • “No person shall cultivate any coca plant or gather any portion of coca plant; cultivate the opium poppy or any cannabis plant; or produce, manufacture, possess, sell, purchase, transport, warehouse, use, consume, import inter-State, export inter-State, import into India, export from India or tranship any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance, except for medical or scientific purposes and in the manner and to the extent provided by the provisions of this Act …” Any person found violating these measures can be charged under the NDPS Act.
  • Generally in NDPS cases, a person is charged after they are caught red-handed with the drugs or money for “commercial usage”.
  • In cases of ‘consumption’, they are also asked to undergo a blood/urine test. The contraband seizure and blood test report work as evidence which correlates the charge.
  • In cases of illicit financing – Section 27(A) of the NDPS Act – under which Chakraborty was booked in the second FIR in which she was arrested, there is no need for narcotic seizure and cash seizures could also be enough.
  • The NCB said they have details of Chakraborty allegedly making payments to drug peddlers using credit cards.
  • The amounts were allegedly in thousands of rupees.
  • Local court, while denying Chakraborty bail, said, under Section 27 (A), no particular quantity is required to prove the offence”.

Are the charges for consumption and commercial usage different?

  • As per law enforcement officials, there are three types of charges.
  • Possession of small quantity, Intermediate quantity and Commercial quantity that are specified by the Central Government by notification in the official gazette.
  • Different narcotics have different quantities that fall under these categories and carry varied punishments.

Can someone who has been caught with a small quantity of drug get immunity from prosecution?

  • Yes, as per Section 64 (A) of the NDPS Act, which stands for immunity from prosecution to addicts volunteering for treatment, says,
    • “Any addict, who is charged with offences involving small quantity of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances,
    • who voluntarily seeks to undergo medical treatment for de-addiction from a hospital or an institution maintained or recognised by the Government or
    • a local authority and undergoes such treatment shall not be liable to prosecution under any other section
    • for offences involving small quantity of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances:
    • Provided that the said immunity from prosecution may be withdrawn if the addict does not undergo the complete treatment for de-addiction.”
  • In simple terms, if a person is caught smoking weed, he can get immunity from prosecution by undergoing treatment for de-addiction.