The NARCOTIC DRUGS & PSYCHOTROPIC SUBSTANCE ACT 1985, was passed by legislature with a view to control the threat of Narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances in India. The parliament amended the act in 2001 to rationalize the structure of punishment. It divided the drugs into two categories i.e. “small quantity and commercial quantity”. The punishment for small quantity is mild and for commercial quantity it is stringent.
In recent judgment of Hira Singh VS Union of India 2020; Supreme Court interprets that that in case of seizure of mixture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances with one or more neutral substance; authorities shall take into account the quantity of neutral substance with the contraband drug while determining; “small quantity or commercial quantity” for sentencing. In this judgment Supreme Court overruled the judgment of two judge bench in E. Micheal Raj VS Intelligence officer, Narcotic Control Bureau.
In the said judgment the court had held; that in case of seizure of mixture of narcotic drug and neutral substance only the actual weight of offending drug shall be taken into consideration; while determining the “small quantity or commercial quantity” for sentencing, neutral substance shall not be counted. Supreme court in case of Hira Singh opined that the court in case of Micheal Raj misread the statements and objects of Amendment Act of 2001. Legislature by dividing the drugs into “small or commercial quantities”; and by introducing two tier punishment for both the categories i.e. small or commercial quantities; does not intent that only offending drug shall be taken into consideration and neutral substance shall be excluded.
Further the court held that the bench in case of Micheal Raj did not consider Entry 239 and Note 2; which enlist the narcotic drug and psychotropic substance with their commercial quantities and small quantities.