The Punjab Cabinet decided to recommend to the Centre death penalty for drug traffickers during a special meeting held on Monday to discuss the increasing number of deaths in Punjab attributed to drug addiction.
As Section 31A of the NDPS Act already provides for death penalty for second-time offenders who engaged in production, manufacture, possession, transport or transhipment, or financing any of these activities, the government later clarified that “the Chief Minister has today demanded death penalty in the first instance of conviction”.
At the five-hour Cabinet meeting, called amid protests in the state over the increasing number of reported deaths due to drugs, it was decided that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh would write to the Department of Home, Government of India, to make a case for getting capital punishment included in the NDPS Act.
My govt has decided to recommend the death penalty for drug peddling/smuggling. The recommendation is being forwarded to the Union government. Since drug peddling is destroying entire generations, it deserves exemplary punishment. I stand by my commitment for a drug free Punjab. pic.twitter.com/dXZTsDwVpf
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) July 2, 2018
Punjab Rural and Urban Development Minister Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, briefing the media, called it an “important development” as the government will ask the Centre for the law so that “any supplier of drugs could be hanged to death.”
When The Indian Express pointed to the existing provision of death penalty under the Act, officials seemed unaware and insisted at first that there was no such provision, pointing out that even Punjab Advocate General Atul Nanda, who was present at the Cabinet discussions, had not pointed it out.
But when officials were shown Section 31A, the Chief Minister’s Office and Department of Home Affairs and Justice went into a huddle and issued a clarification later in the evening.