Drug consumption has emerged as a major concern in recent decades, affecting both youngsters and adults. Drugs, defined as substances that can create dependence and have a direct impact on the brain, consciousness, nervous system, and bodily functions, have the potential for misuse and can be dangerous, even deadly, when used frequently. Presently, two high-profile cases in India highlight the issue: the first involves the late Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput and allegations that his girlfriend and actress Rhea Chakraborthy drugged him, while the second concerns the son of actor Shah Rukh Khan, Aryan Khan, who faced charges of drug possession, consumption, and distribution.
The NDPS Act was enacted in the year 1985 to consolidate and amend the law relating to narcotic drugs, to make stringent provisions for the control and regulation of operations relating to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. The NDPS Act takes drug offenses very seriously and imposes strict penalties. In India, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) serves as the chief law enforcement and intelligence agency in the fight against drug trafficking and the misuse of illegal drugs. Founded in 1986, its primary responsibility is to combat drug trafficking and the use of illegal drugs in accordance with the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.
Anyone who violates the NDPS Act will face penalties based on the amount of the prohibited substance they possess.
Where the contravention involves small quantity, rigorous imprisonment for a term that may extend to 6 months, or a fine of up to 10,000, or both;
Where the contravention involves quantity less than commercial quantity but greater than small quantity, rigorous imprisonment for a term that may extend to 10 years, and a fine of up to 1 lakh;
Where the contravention involves commercial quantity, rigorous imprisonment for a term that may extend to 10 years, and a fine which shall not be less than ₹1 lakh but which may extend to ₹2 lakh;
The small and commercial quantity of various drugs in India are as follows:
Heroin: 5 grams-250 grams
Cocaine: 2 grams-100 grams
Hashish or Charas: 100 grams-1 kg
Opium: 25 grams-2.5 kg
Ganja: 1kg-20 kg
Sushant Singh Rajput Case:
In June 2020, famous actor Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead in his apartment in Mumbai, which led to an investigation by the Mumbai Police and later by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). During the investigation, Rhea Chakraborty, who was reportedly in a relationship with Sushant Singh Rajput, was accused of procuring and consuming drugs. She was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on September 8, 2020, and was subsequently sent to judicial custody. The NCB also arrested Rhea's brother Showik Chakraborty and Sushant Singh Rajput's house manager Samuel Miranda in connection with the case.
Various sections of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, including Section 27A (which pertains to financing illicit trafficking and harboring offenders), were pressed against Rhea Chakraborty. After spending almost a month in jail, she was granted bail by the Bombay High Court on October 7, 2020.
“The investigation did not reveal any recovery either from Rhea or from the house of Sushant Singh Rajput. It is their own case that the drugs were already consumed and hence there was no recovery. In that case there is nothing at this stage to show that Rhea had committed any offence involving commercial quantity of contraband. The material at the highest shows that she has committed an offence involving contraband but the crucial element of incurring rigorous of section 37 [offences to be cognizable and non-bailable] in respect of commercial quantity is missing.” the Bombay High Court observed.
“Therefore, I am satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the applicant that is Rhea is not guilty of any offence punishable under sections 19 [punishment for embezzlement of opium by cultivator], 24 [punishment for external dealings in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances] or 27A [punishment for financing illicit traffic and harbouring offenders] [of the Narcotics Drugs Psychotropic Substances Act] or any other offence involving commercial quantity. There are no other criminal antecedents against her she is not part of the chain of drug dealers. She has not forwarded the drugs illegally procured by her to somebody else to earn monetary or other benefits. Since she has no criminal antecedents there are reasonable grounds for believing that she is not likely to commit any offence while on bail.” the High Court noted.
In June 2022, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) filed draft charges against actor Rhea Chakraborty, her brother Showik, and others. “Rhea Chakroborty received many deliveries of ganja from Accused 6 Samuel Miranda, accused Showik Chakraborty and accused 8 Dipesh Sawant and others and handed over those deliveries to Actor late Sushant Singh Rajput and made payments for those deliveries at the instance accused 7 Showik and late Sushant Singh Rajput during the period March 2020 to September 2020 and thereby you have committed an offence u/s 8[c] r/w 20[b][ii]A, 27A,28, 29 & 30 of NDPS Act 1985,” read the draft charges. The matter is still pending before the Court.
Aryan Khan Case:
In October 2021, Aryan Khan, the son of Bollywood Superstar Shah Rukh Khan, was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) for his suspected involvement in a drug-related case. As per news reports, Aryan Khan and some of his friends were detained by the NCB during a raid that took place at a cruise ship party on October 2, 2021. The NCB stated that drugs such as cocaine, MDMA, and marijuana were confiscated from the party. Following this, Aryan Khan was arrested on October 3, 2021, and charged under several provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. After several court proceedings and being in jail for 26 days, the Bombay High Court granted him bail on October 28. Aryan Khan was eventually released from jail on October 30.
However, he was given clean chit by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on May 27, 2022. "All the accused persons were found in possession of narcotics except Aryan and Mohak," read the statement issued by a senior NCB officer. It was disclosed that the investigating agency was unable to procure enough evidence against Aryan, leading to his exclusion from the chargesheet filed by the agency.
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