To give more teeth to its ongoing drive against drugs, the Punjab government is likely to request the Centre to make punishment for small seizures of heroin more stringent. The move will require an amendment to the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
According to the present provisions of the Act, a seizure of less than five grams of heroin leads to an imprisonment of up to just six months and fine up to Rs 10,000. Moreover, the offence is bailable. For bigger seizures, the jail term can go up to 20 years along with fine up to Rs 2 lakh (see graphic).
“The biggest reason for suppliers not giving up drug trade is the fact that if they are caught with less than five grams (of heroin), they easily get bail. Even otherwise they are out of jail within six months. Even in case of seizures of 5-250 gms, the accused generally get bail in six months. Stricter provisions will create fear among addicts as well,” said additional director general of police (ADGP) Harpreet Sidhu, who heads the Special Task Force (STF) formed by chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh to curb drug menace.
Experts in the government say once heroin is smuggled into the state, it is not supplied further in big quantities due to the risk involved. Mostly addicts are used as couriers to carry small quantities, and seizures above 250 grams are rare.
“I have taken up the matter with the CM and he has assured me that he will be writing to the Union government, seeking special provisions for Punjab after taking legal opinion of experts,” said Sidhu.
The ADGP said he has already taken up the matter with the legal wing of Punjab Police and state government and a detailed documentation is being prepared to forward the case to the Union government. Sources said to strengthen its case, the STF has prepared a detailed report of criminals who have been repeatedly caught selling heroin after coming of jail.
TASK FORCE TO GET MORE OFFICERS
The anti-drugs STF is set to get more officers and postings at district level too. As per a proposal received at the police headquarters, each police range will have a senior superintendent of police (SSP)-rank officer to oversee the drive, while in each police district, an SP or DSP will head the campaign. “The CM is likely to give the go-ahead for the postings very soon,” a senior police official said. There is a proposal to set up a special police station for the STF in SAS Nagar as well.