Indian Laws Which Are Related To Drugs And Poisons

Narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances have a variety of medicinal and scientific applications. They may, and often are, abused and trafficked.

In Article 47 of the Indian Constitution, it is stated that the “State should endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption of intoxicating beverages and of narcotics which are harmful to health, except for therapeutic purposes.” The same principle of preventing drug use other than for medicinal purposes was adopted in three international drug-related conventions: the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971, and the UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988.

India has various Acts. The NDPS Act, Drug Control Act, and Drug & Cosmetics Act are among the legislation in India that focused on reducing drug abuse. Some of the acts related to drugs and poisons are listed below.

  • The Poison Act, 1919
  • The Drugs Act, 1940
  • The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940
  • The Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945
  • The Pharmacy Act, 1948
  • The Drugs Control Act, 1950
  • The Drugs and Magic Remedies Act, 1954
  • The Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act, 1985
  • The Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860
  • The Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973
  • The Indian Evidence Act (IEA), 1872

The Poison Act (1919)

It was changed in 1958, and it was revoked in 1960. It controls the issuance of licences and the retail and wholesale distribution of poisons. Additionally, it oversees the import, sale, and ownership of any specific poisons and covers the entirety of India..

The Drugs And Cosmetic Act (1940)

“The import, manufacturing, distribution, and sale of all kinds of medications (allopathic, ayurveda, unani, siddha, etc.) and cosmetics” are covered in this act. The exact formula or a list of the contents for every patented or proprietary pharmaceutical preparation must be displayed on the container’s label, according to the Act. The amended Act has toughened the penalties for a number of offences, such as selling fake drugs, adulterating drugs and cosmetics, hazardous pollutants, etc.

Provisions of the Act

Import of Drugs.

Manufacturing of Drugs.

Sale of Drugs.

Labelling and Packaging – all the general and specific labelling and packaging specified to all classes of Drugs and Cosmetics should be as per provisions made under the act.

Classes of Drugs prohibited to import:

Misbranded Drugs.

Drugs of Substandard Quality.

Dugs claiming to cure diseases specified in Schedule – J.

Adulterated Drugs.

Spurious Drugs.

Drugs that are forbidden in their originating country of manufacturing, sale, or distribution, except for the purposes of testing, evaluation, and analysis.

Import of spurious or adulterated drug or drug during which involves risk to human beings or animals or drug not having therapeutic values.Three years imprisonment and 5000 fine on just conviction5 years imprisonment or 1000 fine or both for a subsequent conviction
Contravention of provision 6 months imprisonment or 500 rupees fine or both for the first conviction1-year imprisonment or 1000 rupees fine for a subsequent offence.

The Drugs and Cosmetics Rules (1945)

In addition to exercising control over the “production, sale, and distribution of Drugs and Cosmetics,” this additional law “Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940” focuses primarily on the standard quality of drugs. The Central Drugs Laboratory was founded in 1962 to aid in the advancement of the declaration of results from the inspection or experiment of drug samples to evaluate their features. Drugs Control Laboratories have been established by many states. Drugs that are made, supplied, or sold in violation of the law are subject to severe penalties. Clinical study standards for more recent medications have become more stringent.

The following Schedules are used to categorise pharmaceuticals in accordance with the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules:

Schedule C and C1—Biological products, e.g. serums and vaccines.

Schedule D– Non-medicinal substances, such as condensed or powdered milk, oats, spices and sauces, and so on.

Schedule E1—In the Ayurvedic (including Siddha) and Unani systems of medicine, a list of toxic drugs is maintained.

Schedule G—Chemotherapeutic agents for cancer, antihis-taminics, and hypoglycemic agents.

Schedule H and L—Injectables, antibiotics, antibacterials and other prescription drugs.

Schedule J— AIDS, cancer, cataract, congenital malformations, deafness, blindness, hydrocoele, hernia, piles, leukoderma, stammering, paralysis, and other diseases and ailments that a drug may not purport to prevent or cure or make claims to prevent or cure, such as AIDS, cancer, cataract, congenital malformations, deafness, blindness, hydrocoele, hernia, piles, leukoderma,

Schedule O— Disinfectant fluids must adhere to certain guidelines.

Schedule S—Standards to be followed with regard to cosmetics and allied products.

Schedule X drugs— Amphetamines and other stimulants, as well as barbiturates and other sedatives.

The Pharmacy Act (1948)

The Pharmacy Council of India, which is responsible for regulating pharmacy practise nationwide, was established under the provisions of this legislation.

For the enrollment of pharmacists, each state has its own pharmacy council. To ensure that each state has its own State Pharmacy Council for the registration of pharmacists, and to allow only registered pharmacists to compound, make, or dispense from some medications on the prescription of a registered person trained in medical science, this act’s purpose is to ensure that each state has its own State Pharmacy Council.

The Drugs Control Act (1950)

This Act regulates the supply and disposal of medications, as well as directing the manufacturer or business owner to set the maximum price for each drug.

The Drugs and Magic Remedies Act (1954)

This Act governs drug advertising in India. It forbids the promotion of medications and treatments that claim to have magical properties and makes it a criminal offence to do so.

The Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act (1985)

The NDPS Act was passed in order “to unify and reform narcotic drug legislation, as well as to create strong measures for the control and regulation of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances activities.”

It is illegal to “create, manufacture, cultivate, own, sell, transfer, purchase, or consume any Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.” The term “narcotic” in the legal sense is distinct from the term “sleep-inducing agent” in the medical context. A narcotic drug may be an opiate (a real narcotic), cannabis (a non-narcotic), or cocaine in legal terms (the very antithesis of a narcotic, since it is a stimulant). LSD, phencyclidine, amphetamines, barbiturates, methaqualone, benzodiazepines, mescaline, psilocybin, and designer compounds are examples of mind-altering substances.

The NDPS Act includes procedural safeguards such as Panchnama, Seizure report, Seal report, Proper arrest report, and so on. One of the fundamental characteristics of the NDPS Act is that not only is drug consumption an offence, but so is drug possession. For example, if you keep illicit substances in your home but do not use them, you will still face penalties under sections of the NDPS Act. Drug use is punishable under “Section 27 of the NDPS Act.”

The amount of drugs involved in the case will determine the punishment under this act. The NDPS Act divides drug amount into two categories. The first is a Small Quantity, and the second is a Commercial Quantity. If person have small quantities of drugs, then penalty will be less severe, and if he/she have commercial quantities, then punishment will be more severe. The NDPS Act itself offers specifics on the Quantity of each medicine, letting to determine what is Small Quantity and Commercial Quantity.

Sentence will vary from 6 months to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment. Section 31A of the NDPS Act further specifies the death penalty for repeat offences or in exceptionally rare cases.

The NDPS Act also includes some unique measures for people who are addicted. As previously indicated, drug consumption is a violation of Section 27 of the NDPS Act. However, if the accused intends to participate in a de-addiction programme and indicates his plan “to participate in some de-addiction programme,” he will be exempt. The NDPS Act, Section 64A, grants “immunity from prosecution to addicts who volunteer for treatment.”

Small Quantity And Commercial Quantity Of Drugs Under NDPS Act, 1985

DrugSmall QuantityCommercial Quantity
Amphetamine2 gram50 gram
Buprenorphine1 gram20 gram
Charas/Hashish100 gram1 kg
Cocaine2 gram100 gram
Codeine10 gram1 kg
Coca leaf100 gram2 kg
Diazepam20 gram500 gram
Ganja1 kg20 kg
Heroin5 gram250 gram
LSD2 mg100 mg
MDMA0.5 gram10 gram
Methamphetamine2 gram50 gram
Methaqualone20 gram500 gram
Morphine5 grams250 gram
Opium25 gram2.5 kg
Poppy straw1 kg50 kg
Commercial Quantity

Section 2 (vii-a) “commercial quantity”, in relation to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, means any quantity greater than the quantity specified by the Central Government by notification in the Official Gazette.

Small Quantity

Section 2 (xxiiia) “small quantity”, in relation to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, means any quantity lesser than the quantity specified by the Central Government by notification in the Official Gazette.


For Small Quantity: Maximum of 1-year rigorous imprisonment or a fine up to Rs 10,000 or Both.

For Commercial Quantity: Rigorous imprisonment from 10 years (min) to 20 years (max) and a fine from Rs 1 lakh to 2 lakhs.

Intermediate (In-between smaller & commercial quantity): Rigorous imprisonment that may extend to 10 years & fine that may extend to Rs 1 lakh.

Narcotics Control Bureau

The Narcotics Control Bureau, founded in 1986 under the NDPS Act, is the apex organisation in India that regulates drug trafficking. NCB’s headquarters are in New Delhi, with regional offices in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and Varanasi.

Other legal bodies which govern drug abuse are:

  • Narcotics Control Division.
  • Central Bureau of Narcotics.
  • Narcotic Control Bureau.
  • Directorate of Revenue Intelligence.
  • Central Bureau of Investigation.
  • Customs Commission.
  • Border Security Force.
  • Police.

Drugs Price Control Order (DCPO)

The Drugs Price Control Order, 1995, was issued by the Government of India to regulate drug pricing under Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. The order covers, among other things, a list of price-controlled medications, procedures for determining drug prices, methods for implementing government-set pricing, penalties for enforcing DCPO regulations, and authorities granted under the NPPA. Later, the Drugs Price Control Order (DCPO) 2013 was issued.

Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860

Section 176: Failure to provide notice or information to a public servant by a person who is legally obligated to do so. Doctors are required to report all cases of homicidal poisoning to the police; if they do not, they will be prosecuted.

Section 193: False evidence is punishable. False information about a poisoning instance is penalised by law.

Section 201: It is a capital offence to cause the deletion of evidence of an offence or to provide false information to a screen offender.

Section 202: Intentional failure to report an offence by a person who is obligated to do so. Intentional concealment of facts concerning a poisoning case treated by him is punishable.

Section 272: Adulteration of food or drink intended for sale.

Section 273: Sale of noxious food or drink.

Section 274: Adulteration of drugs.

Section 275: Sale of adulterated drugs.

Section 276: Sale of drug as a different drug or preparation.

Section 284: Negligent conduct with respect to poisonous substances.

Section 299: Culpable homicide that was caused through the consumption of poisonous substances.

Section 300:  Murder caused by using poisonous substances.

Section 302: Punishment for murder.

Section 306: Abetment of suicide.

Section 307: Attempt to murder.

Section 309: Attempt to commit suicide.

Section 304 A: Causing death by negligence.

Section 324: Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means.

Section 326: Voluntarily bring about severe hurt by dangerous weapons or other resources.

Section 326 A: Causing grievous hurt by the use of acid.

Section 326 B: Throwing or attempting to throw acid.

Section 328: Causing harm to others using poison, etc., with the aim to commit an offence.

The Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973

Section 39:  Public to give information of certain offences. Everyone who is aware of the commission or intention to commit an offence shall inform the nearest police station or nearest magistrate.

Section 40: Duty of person in law enforcement working in connection with matters or business to be taken care of in a village to form a certain report.

Section 175: Power to summon persons- police officers in charge of the police station or other police officers have the power to summon the person who has committed the offence.

The Indian Evidence Act (IEA), 1872

The Indian Evidence Act (IEA), Section 32, Clause 1, “allows a doctor to record a dying declaration when the patient’s death is imminent and the arrival of the magistrate is delayed.”


  • The Poison Act, 1919
  • The Drugs Act, 1940
  • The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940
  • The Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945
  • The Pharmacy Act, 1948
  • The Drugs Control Act, 1950
  • The Drugs and Magic Remedies Act, 1954
  • Notification Specifying Small Quantity And Commercial Quantity.
  • The Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act, 1985
  • The Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860
  • The Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973
  • The Indian Evidence Act (IEA), 1872
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