New Delhi, Sep 26: The Bollywood drug case linked to the death of Sushant Singh Rajput is the talk of the town. With big personalities from the industry being summoned by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), it would be a good idea to take a look at the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) of 1985.
No person shall cultivate any coca plant or gather any portion of coca plant; cultivate the opium poppy or any cannabis plant or produce, manufacture, possess, sell, purchase, transport, warehouse, use, consume, import inter-State, export inter-State, import into India, export from India or tranship any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance, except for medical or scientific purposes and in the manner and to the extent provided by the provisions of this Act. Any person found violating these measures can be charged under the NDPS Act, Section 8 (c) says.
In general a person is charged under the NDPS Act after being caught red-handed with drugs or money meant for commercial usage. If a person is caught in the act while consuming drugs, he or she is asked to undergo a blood and urine test. The seizure of the contraband and the blood test report is used as evidence in the case to correlate the charge.
In the case of Rhea Chakraborty, the NCB arrested her Section 27(A) of the Act. This deals with illicit financing and there is no need for a narcotic seizure and cash seizures are enough. The NCB had said that they had details of her allegedly making payments to drug peddlers using credit cards. Her lawyer had however countered this charges and said that these payments do not make her part of a drug cartel. The court while denying her bail had said that under Section 27 (A), no particular quantity is required to prove the offence.
Under the law there are three types of charges- possession of small quantity, intermediate quantity and commercial quantity. If a person is found in possession of a cannabis up to 1 kilogram, he or she may be jailed for a term that may extend up to six months or with fine which may extend up to Rs 10,000 or both.
In the case of an intermediate quantity that is between 1 kg to 20 kgs, the imprisonment would be for a term up to 10 years and with fine which could be extended up to Rs 1 lakh. In the case of a commercial quantity, which is above 20 kilograms, rigorous imprisonment for a term of not less than 10 years but which may extend up to 20 years will be granted. The person could be fined not less than 1 lakh but may be extended up to Rs 2 lakh.
Now coming to Section 64 (A) of the NDPS Act. This section says, any addict, who is charged 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 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.
It may be recalled that in 2001, actor Fardeen Khan was charged with possession and consumption of a small quantity of cocaine. He was given an exemption after undergoing a de-addiction programme under Section 64 (A) of the NDPS Act.
However, immunity can be applied for only once a chargesheet is submitted by the agencies. It will not have any bearing during the process of investigation.
In the case of Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan, Shraddha Kapoor and Rakul Preet Singh, the NCB has summoned them on the basis of WhatsApp chats found on the phones of Chakraborty and Jaya Saha. Further, the confessional statements made by them was also a basis for the summons.
The NCB's further course of action would largely depend on the statements given by these persons. In this case, the maximum they could be charged is for consumption.
They could seek immunity by willing to under rehabilitation. This is provided they do not contest the charge.