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Maharashtra: Devendra Fadnavis promises war on drugs, with Centre’s help

Updated on: 19 July,2023 07:20 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dharmendra Jore | dharmendra.jore@mid-day.com

State govt has recommended to the Centre amendments to NDPS Act for stricter punishment to both buyers and sellers of drugs, says Deputy CM

Maharashtra: Devendra Fadnavis promises war on drugs, with Centre’s help

Deputy CM and Home Minister Devendra Fadnavis arrives for the monsoon session at Vidhan Bhavan, on Tuesday. Pic/Atul Kamble

The government has asked the Centre to amend the NDPS Act for stricter punishment, Home Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Tuesday while assuring to intensify the fight against drugs in the state. Responding to a question by NCP member Rohit Pawar in the state assembly, Fadnavis said the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has been appointed the nodal agency for crackdown on narcotics in the state. Each police station has been given an anti-narcotics cell, which was previously available only in big cities, he added.


Initiating debate, Pawar said that Pune and many other cities had been flooded with narcotics. According to him, suppliers were using code language on social media to receive orders from consumers. “Such things are used to book, sell, buy drugs,” he said, flashing printouts of emojis. “We need to have a long-term policy to check the menace. The youngsters are being ruined,” Pawar said.


NDPS Act amendments


Fadnavis said the state had recommended to the Centre some significant amendments to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985. One of them is to reduce the punishable quantity of banned drugs found on a person (consumer/supplier). Offenders get a minimum sentence under the current provisions.

He said in many cases, the offenders claimed that the quantity in their possession was for personal consumption only. The commercial purpose, if proven, ensures maximum punishment, he added.

The second recommendation, Fadnavis said, was to grant the state law enforcement agencies (police) the right to allow ‘controlled delivery’, which facilitates the delivery of drugs under the supervision of investigators. “It helps to establish an end-to-end supply chain and apprehend all parties involved, from top to bottom.

“Whenever the state police seek permission from the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), the investigation is derailed due to delay,” Fadnavis said, adding that only the NCB has the right of controlled deliveries. The Centre was positive about accepting the suggestion, he added.

Another suggestion was to increase the deadline to file charge sheets to 180 days from the existing 90 days. “The hurried filing of charge sheets doesn’t allow investigators to dig deep. Not all culprits are nabbed, charged and tried,” he said. 

Detention centres

About checking involvement of foreign nationals in sourcing and trafficking of banned drugs, the home minister said the visa violations/overstay were being tracked, registered and the offenders put in detention centres before being deported. “We are identifying suspect foreign nationals. Some of them like to get arrested because that delays their deportation,” he said.

According to him, special scanners have been installed at the ports in Maharashtra and other states to verify the cargo containers for narcotics. “Private courier services and the postal department have been sensitised and standard operating procedures have been given for checking the suspected parcels,” he said.

Neighbourhood watch

Chemists and pharmacists have been asked to maintain records of sale of drugs that could be abused, Fadnavis said. “Over-the-counter sale of drugs (that can be abused) has been banned. Prescriptions must be preserved for audit and CCTV camera footage of prescription sale must be stored for future references and investigations,” he added.

When Congress MLC Jitendra Awhad, who had raised the matter of over-the-counter sale, pointed out that paan shops were the easy source of drugs for the youth, Fadnavis said the police were dealing with these establishments, especially those close to the schools and colleges, with an iron fist. A lot of them were shut down in the past three months, he added.

BJP leader Sameer Meghe demanded capital punishment for traffickers, but Fadnavis said the lawmakers had to think about the pros and cons, because the drugs being abused are also being utilised legally in medicines.

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