Punjab looks at little-used law to pardon and rehab drug offenders

When The Indian Express checked with police officers whether the NDPS section had been invoked earlier to seek immunity from prosecution, most said they were unaware of proceedings under Section 64 (A).

Written by Adil Akhzer | Chandigarh | Published:March 25, 2017 5:34 am
Day 1 of the Punjab Assembly session Friday. End to state’s drug problem was a Congress poll promise.Express Photo by Kamleshwar Singh

Days after coming to power in Punjab where it had promised voters an end to the drug problem in the state, the Congress government is considering, among other measures, invoking a provision in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act that allows a person booked under the law to seek immunity from prosecution if he or she agrees to undergo medical treatment for de-addiction in a government hospital or an authorised centre.

Sources said the government wants such persons to commit themselves to a year-long de-addiction programme. Immunity from prosecution can be sought on completion of the programme and medical certification, sources said, adding that this will only apply to non-commercial offences.

Section 64A in the NDPS Act relates to “immunity from prosecution to addicts volunteering for treatment”. It states: “Any addict, who is charged with an offence punishable under section 27 or 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 section 27 or 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small quantity of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances: Provided that the said immunity from prosecution may be withdrawn if the addict does not undergo the complete treatment for de-addiction.”

Sources said the Punjab government is also considering designating senior officials of the state drug control department to make drug seizures and register cases.

A senior official said the government wants to “differentiate between hard core drug traffickers and those who have become victims due to some circumstances”.

“Those who have been arrested with small quantity of drugs can use this option. Police can take them to a magistrate and these persons will have to agree to undergo the year-long programme,” sources said.

Cracking down on drugs in 2014-2015, the previous SAD-BJP government packed Punjab jails with nearly 30,000 addicts who were held will small quantities of drugs.

When The Indian Express checked with police officers whether the NDPS section had been invoked earlier to seek immunity from prosecution, most said they were unaware of proceedings under Section 64 (A).

Harjit Singh, SSP Tarn Taran, said: “I have not come across such legal proceedings where an inmate seeks immunity by invoking this section.”

J Elanchezhian, SSP Amritsar Rural, said: “To my knowledge, not many people have used this section to get immunity from prosecution. There is a need of awareness about this section of the Act. In the past, I used to recommend to first-time offenders that they can use this section of the Act and get immunity. But there was no response. It needs to be implemented.”

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App

  1. S
    SubbuI
    Mar 25, 2017 at 6:12 am
    GOOD AND POSSITIVE MOVE BY CAPTAIN IN PUNJAB.HE HAS TO FOLLOW UP AND FINISH DRUG MANACE. SAD/ BJP iNSTEAD THEY HELPED DRUG MAFIA AND MADA MONEY AND FINISHED HARD WORKING AND INTELEGENTUNJAB YOUTH
    Reply
    1. K
      kk
      Mar 25, 2017 at 4:11 am
      it looks clearly the previous govt was in hand in hand with drug traffickers
      Reply
      1. H
        Harminder Singh
        Mar 25, 2017 at 1:28 am
        Kudos to the Capt he's at least started acting unlike the other side which haven't still finished with their photo opps or busy changing their proclamations by the hour
        Reply
        1. N
          Naresh
          Mar 25, 2017 at 2:04 am
          It means Badals BJP never had de-addiction plan in force in Punjab, if it had was never used.Thanks to Captain Arminder of using th provision of law to start new life drug free. At same time mafia running drug business including its smuggler from neighbouring state and countries be dealt with strictly according to law.
          Reply
          1. P
            Paddy Singh
            Mar 25, 2017 at 7:38 am
            The CM needs to get after the Kingpins of the drug smugglers, but no mention of that.
            Reply
            1. S
              Samaritan
              Mar 25, 2017 at 5:58 am
              A clever way for legally allow Drugs into Punjab. A Western Hoodwinking approach.
              Reply
              1. S
                Satwant Mavi
                Mar 26, 2017 at 1:48 pm
                The Akali Govt put 30000 drug users in jail to faciltate the distribution of drugs. It is a known fact in Punjab that drug was easily available in Punjab jails during Akali regime..
                Reply
                1. E
                  Egghead
                  Mar 25, 2017 at 8:31 am
                  it's a good move, but is Amarinder Singh also looking into the Rs. 6000 crore synthetic drug scam being looked after adequately well by the Enforcement Directorate for the last 2 years. If he sincerely wants to get rid of drug menace, let him personally monitor this scam. He did promise before elections about drug menace being removed from Punjab in a month. Hope he remembers his vow or was that an election ever gimmick. he knows that bigwigs are involved in that scam and if he develops cold feet, it won't be surprising in 'MERA BHARAT (no longer MAHAAN)
                  Reply
                  1. Load More Comments