Absurd Rule On Keeping Drugs Without Medical Prescription Will Create Injustice To Social Fabric Of Punjab & Haryana: HC

HC says amendment be made to curb the easy supply of drugs under garb of sub Rule 2 of Rule 66 of the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Rules

Calling sub Rule 2 of Rule 66 of the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Rules, 1985 “absurd” for letting a person possess 100 units of psychotropic substance at a time for medicinal use, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has said, “This proviso had encouraged such nefarious persons to spoil the innocent minds” and “[i]f allowed to exist, it shall create injustice to the social fabric of Punjab and Haryana”.

Justice Raj Shekhar Attri said, “In fact, the provisions of first proviso attached with sub Rule 2 of the Rules 66 is in direct conflict with the provisions of Section 37 of the NDPS Act.”

The court said so while dismissing the bail plea of Sarbjit Singh who was found in possession 25 ampouls containing Avil and 25 intoxicating vials each containing 2ml of buprenorphine on January 13, 2017.

As per the prosecution, the total weight of 25 vials containing 2 ml each comes to 50 ml in total that comes to 50 grams and thus falls within the commercial quantity of the psychotropic substance and the rigors of Section 37 of the Act comes into play which imposes a restriction in granting bail to the offender.

Counsel for Sarbjit, however, argued that he was entitled to bail under the first proviso of sub Rule 2 of Rule 66 as he is not required to produce any medical prescription issued by registered medical practitioner and it shall be presumed for his personal use.

As per sub-rule 2 of Rule 66, where such psychotropic substance is in possession of an individual for his personal medical use, the quantity thereof shall not exceed 100 dosage units at a time.

The proviso to it says that if the dose is for long-term medical use, it must be prescribed by a Registered Medical Practitioner.

The second proviso to Rule 2 reads that an individual may possess the quantity of exceeding 100 dosage units at a time [but not exceeding 300 dosage units at a time] for his personal long-term medical use if specifically prescribed by a registered medical practitioner.

Reading Rule 2 and the second proviso together, the counsel for the petitioner said if the quantity of the dose in scheduled psychotropic substances comes up to 100 units, then there is no need of any medical prescription and it shall be presumed that the same was used for personal medical use of the petitioner.

To this, the court said, “If this argument of learned counsel for the petitioner is admitted to be correct, for sake of arguments, then every individual will have the liberty to keep with him 100 ampoules of all the 111 psychotropic substances as shown in the schedule attached with the Act. The synthetic/manufactured drugs—such like buprenorphine—have created a havoc with the youth of the country. Even registration of numerous cases under the Act against the consumers, carriers and couriers have made little impact. This proviso had encouraged such nefarious persons to spoil the innocent minds.”

“Hundred doses of buprenorphine, as well as that of remaining 110 scheduled substances liberally, authorises their mishandling and misuse. It is the need of time that appropriate amendment be made to curb the easy supply of the psychotropic substances under the garb of sub Rule 2 of Rule 66 of the Rules,” said Justice Attri.

Absurd and confusing provision

The court went on to add that, “The first proviso is silent with regard to the fact if such a person has to possess any medical prescription for carrying 100 doses of the scheduled psychotropic substances. This provision is absurd to this extent and in contradiction with object of the Act.”

“The object of the Act is to completely curb and put a ban on the use, consumption, sale, purchase and possession of the psychotropic substances and narcotics. In the case in hand, recovery of psychotropic substance falls within the ambit of commercial quantity, therefore, the provisions of Section 37 of the Act are applicable. This provision does not exempt any of the provisions of the Act or Rules, rather it imposes a blanket ban on the possession of the psychotropic substance.

“From this angle, this Court is of the view that if a person keeps the commercial quantity of the psychotropic substance falling under the schedule, he is not entitled to the benefit of Section 37 of the Act irrespective of the provisions contained in Rule 66 of the Rules,” said the court.

Rule will create injustice

Ruing the current trend of drug abuse, Justice Attri said, “This court is not oblivious of the fact that deaths in huge number have occurred due to drug abuse, which causes ripples of fear and anxiety across Punjab. In fact, this part of the country fell prey to the drug terrorism. Drug menace in our country, especially in Punjab, has attained dangerous proportions. The drug abuse has been destroying the very fabric of society. The youths, who are backbone of the society, are falling victims to drug terrorism. In fact, there is nearly no control over the transportation consumption, sale and supply of said drug.”

“In this view of the matter, the petitioner can never be allowed to take 100 doses of buprenorphine or other 110 psychotropic substances, as shown in the schedule, especially when there is no medical prescription nor it is his case that he was using the same for personal medical use. The language of the first proviso is not only in conflict with the provisions of section 37 of the Act but also the same is confusing. If allowed to exist it shall create injustice to the social fabric of Punjab and Haryana.”

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