This article on ‘What to do in case one is caught by police in possession of drugs?’ was written by Akash Sharma, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
Addiction to drugs knows no bounds; it affects everyone regardless of their background or circumstances. There is no denying that drug consumption has become a big public health concern in today’s world. The consequences of possession of drugs allegations can be severe, affecting both personal and professional life. Therefore responding legally in a situation where one is caught in possession of drugs is crucial to make a significant difference against serious implications.
The following article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the legal consequences and available remedies for individuals who are detained in custody for drug possession. It delves into the background of the subject, shedding light on the legal implications surrounding drug possession charges. By examining the legal framework and exploring potential remedies, this article aims to equip readers with valuable insights and knowledge to navigate the complexities of drug possession cases.
DRUGS: MEANING AND TYPES
Drugs are substances that, when consumed, can have a significant impact on the psychological state of the body. Drugs can be elucidated in different senses depending upon the context for the purpose it is used which are medicinal drugs or recreational drugs. Where medicinal drugs are substances used for therapeutic purposes to prevent diagnose or treat medical conditions prescribed by medical professionals which include painkillers, antibiotics, antidepressants, and many others.
Recreational drugs on the other hand refer to substances that are used primarily for their psychoactive effects, often for recreational purposes which can alter mood, perception, and behavior these include cannabis (charas, ganja), cocaine, MDMA, hallucinogens (such as LSD or magic mushrooms), and amphetamines.
It has become a matter of concern globally where the drug has been used for addiction purposes. Consumption of drugs can lead to various effects on individuals, which may include relaxation, euphoria, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, physical agitation, slurred speech, shallow breathing, and anxiety attacks.
It is crucial to understand that the legality and categorization of drugs may vary between jurisdictions of one country to another. While certain drugs may be legally accessible for medical or recreational purposes in specific areas, others might be subject to strict regulations due to their potential for abuse, addiction, and societal harm. Staying informed about local laws and regulations governing drug use and possession is essential.
CAUGHT IN POSSESSION OF DRUGS BY POLICE?
A situation might arise when one is caught in possession of drugs and detained in the custody of the police, such a situation might be distressing and challenging. There it is very crucial to know the legal rights and steps one could take to protect himself/herself legally. Important considerations to be made in a similar situation are – to stay calm and cooperate when interacting with police, exercise the right to remain silent until consulting with the lawyer and seek for legal representative by contacting a qualified attorney, except having probable cause to avoid consenting to searches and being convicted one might be liable for severe penalties, therefore, the accused must know the potential consequences.
LAW GOVERNING DRUGS IN INDIA
When one considers the history of India, it is clear that drugs such as Bhang and Charas were once used for medical purposes, but now they are used for intoxication.The Golden Triangle and Golden Crescent being the largest producer of drugs like opium and heroin has impacted our nation whose prime example is Punjab.
Previously numerous laws were established to combat illegal drug trafficking within the nation. The Opium Act of 1857, subsequently followed by The Opium Act of 1878 and the Dangerous Drug Act, were among the significant legislations enacted to address drug-related issues. But over time, for enhancing and providing a comprehensive legal framework a new act was passed eradicating the previous three acts to be known as The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act).
The main purpose of the act was to combat the illicit production, trafficking, and abuse of narcotics drugs, and psychotropic substances. It aligns with international drug control treaties and conventions bringing out India’s commitment to global efforts to fight drug trafficking and abuse.
The NDPS Act provides several provisions for punishments and rights against a person who has been held in custody for possession of drugs. The severity of prosecution can vary based on factors such as the quality and drugs involved. The Act has classified drug quantities into three categories which are: small quantity, Intermediate quantity, and commercial quantity.
Small quantity refers to the quantity of drugs considered very minute and indicates personal use or consumption. Possession, sale, or transport of drugs falling within the small quantity category usually carries lesser penalties compared to higher quantities. Intermediate quantity exceeds the threshold of small quantity but is however less than commercial quantity. Penalties and punishment under this category are more severe than that of a person possessing drugs in small quantities. The commercial quantity category pertains to drug quantities that are significantly larger and indicate involvement in commercial drug trafficking with larger thresholds.
Penalties and punishments are serious and hefty. The provision stipulates penalties including up to six months imprisonment or a fine of up to Rs. 10,000 or both for small quantity, imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of up to Rs. 1,00,000 for intermediate quantity, and imprisonment ranging from 10 to 20 years and a fine ranging from Rs. 1,00,000 to Rs. 2,00,000 for commercial quantity. Habitual offenders may be subject to increased punishment, which can be 1.5 times more than the prescribed penalty for a non-habitual offender.
- Mandaman Ali vs. State of Himachal Pradesh, 2013: Also known as the Charas case, where the Supreme Court emphasized the need for the prosecution to establish actual possession and knowledge of the prohibited drug beyond a reasonable doubt.
- State of Punjab vs. Baldev Singh, 1999: The Supreme Court ruled that drug recovery from the accused’s person was highly incriminating and could result in a conviction unless there were doubts regarding the search process or evidence reliability.
- Promoting awareness and education – It is a necessity for the nation to promote awareness and education about the adverse effects and legality of drug consumption with various programs.
- Strengthen law enforcement – In combat against drug trafficking and distribution networks, strengthening of law is a must.
- Encouragement of community involvement – To fight against the abuse of drugs, it must start from the ground level where society would come together to work against drug consumption for abuse.
- Review of drug law – To make provisions laid down under drug law effective and efficient, a periodical review of law related to drugs is essential.
Drug abuse is a significant and multifaceted issue that poses serious challenges to our society. While various laws have been enacted to combat drug abuse, there remains a need for stronger and more stringent measures, as well as increased awareness. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act categorizes drugs based on quantity, determining corresponding penalties and punishments. In cases where individuals are apprehended for drug possession, it is important to recognize that each situation is unique, and seeking personalized legal advice is crucial to navigating the legal process effectively.
- Parramba Singh Rathore, “Drugs, Laws And Punishments”, Legal Services India, available at: https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-10431-drugs-laws-and-punishments.html (last visited on July 07 2023)
- Sneha Mahawar, “NDPS Act : Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985”, iPleaders Blog, 10 May 2022, available at: https://blog.ipleaders.in/ndps-act-narcotic-drugs-and-psychotropic-substances-act-1985/ (last visited on July 07 2023)
- Prem Chandra, “Procedure Of Arrest, Search And Seizure Under The NDPS Act 1985 And Legal Rights Of A Person”, Legal Services India, available at: https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-7201-procedure-of-arrest-search-and-seizure-under-the-ndps-act-1985-and-legal-rights-of-a-person.html (last visited on July 07 2023)