No plan to decriminalise personal consumption of drugs, says Centre
On the first day of the second half of the Budget Session, the government told the Parliament that it doesn’t have any plans to decriminalise personal consumption of drugs.
Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Choudhary said this in a written statement in response to a question posed by Congress MLA Pradyut Bordoloi. Bordoloi sought to know whether the Government proposes to amend the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act to decriminalise usage of personal consumption of drugs, treating drug consumers as victims rather than culprits, as recommended by the Ministry of Social Justice.
In October last year, the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry had recommended decriminalising possession of small quantities of drugs for personal consumption in its review of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act submitted to the Revenue Department.
The Parliament passed the NDPS Act 2021 during the Winter Session in December. The Ordinance amended the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 to correct a drafting error that considered financing certain illicit activities or harbouring persons engaged in them as an offence
Currently, possession of drugs is a criminal offence and the NDPS Act grants immunity from prosecution and imprisonment if they volunteer for rehabilitation.
Answering another question asked by Bordoloi, Choudhary said that ₹11,09,99,578 was incurred on the National Fund for Control of Drugs Abuse between 2014 and 2021. Last year, the social justice and empowerment ministry said that the Fund, which was set up in 1989, should be used to carry out de-addiction programmes, rather than just policing activities.
Choudhary further said that the Fund is being used to fund de-addiction programmes in Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh, India Red Cross Society, Kapurthala and Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, New Delhi. The Fund has also been used to set up de-addiction centres in Arunachal Pradesh.