Substance abuse may be conceptualized has crime without victim, i.e., addict himself is the victim who becomes a prey of its misuse. This devastating melody is eroding the roots of social, economic and cultural fiber of Indian society. It gives rise to criminality and criminal behavior which eventually leads to social disorganization.
Alcoholism and drug habitation has been prevalent in most societies over the ages because of their allegedly pleasurable and relaxing effects or as a means of relieving physical tensions, fatigue and as stimulant to withstand adversities. However, with the unprecedented expansion of pharmaceutical industry, the use. Abuse and misuse of alcohol and drugs has increased leaps and bounds covering almost all sections of society.
Substance abuse are indicative of the irresponsibility and weakness of the character of the persons using these intoxicants. The relation between alcoholism and various aggressive and criminal acts is often confirmed by police records and prison statistics which indicate that in the present day there is a considerable increase in such alcoholic-criminal episodes. Experience has shown that various preventive and punitive measures such as fine, imprisonment or detention for drunkenness and other disorderly behaviors have failed in eliminating this menace.
It has been generally agreed that criminality in human beings is to be attributed to their mental depravity, Persons with balanced emotional and physical health normally do not indulge in criminality or aggressive conduct : nor do they take to alcoholism beyond control. Investigations made by sociologist and criminologists on alcohol-crime relationship reveal thai there is a close resemblance between the structure of alcoholics and criminals. This proposition brings us to the following conclusions regarding the impact of alcoholism and drug-addicts on criminality1 :
(1) Crimes arc often planned in liquor shops and bars where alcohol is sold.
(2) Offenders generally consume liquor and alcohol or drugs to overcome
their inhibitions and emotional strains.
(3) The booty and gains of crime are often distributed and shared in liquor
(4) Alcohol and narcotic drugs help lo remove the element of self-criticism
from the criminal in relation to himself and his acts.
(5) Juvenile delinquency and drinking are intimately connected.
(6) The illegality of purchase and possession of alcohol and narcotic drugs
make alcoholics or drug addicts delinquent ipso facto.
(7) Alcoholism and drug addiction being forbidden by law, their
procurement gives rise to a number of related crimes such as illicit
spirit-distilling, smuggling of wine or intoxicating drugs, racketeering,
drug trafficking underhand deals in transmission of alcohol and
narcotics from one place to another and bribing the officials to escape
arrest and punishment.
Of late, drug abuse seems lo have become a fashion for fun to relieve boredom, to get rid of tensions at home and in society, to feel good and high, to revolt against establishment, to heighten sexual experience, improve studying and so on.
Main Causes of Substance Abuse
Alcoholics and drug addicts take to drinking or use of drugs for a variety of reasons.
The factors mainly responsible for the spread of this evil are :—
1. Rapid industrialisation and urbanisation have ushered a new way of
life with new values like permissiveness. As a result, the age-old
inhibitions, toboos and traditional social control mechanisms have
ceased to have force. Many cases of drug or alcohol addicts arise after
apparent failure in business or professional life. Unemployment is also
an important factor contributing to drug and alcohol addiction
especially among youths.
2. The lack of parental care and control partly due to working situation
of both spouses and disintegration of joint family system are also
contributory factors to encourage this vice. The manace of drug abuse
is more common among the middle, upper-middle, and high economic
class families. Urban areas seem to be more effected by this vice .
3. The recent developments in pharmarceutical and medical sciences have
provided scope for production of a variety of toxic synthetic
substances. This has contributed substantially to drug-abuse and
4. People often take drugs for relief from painful illness and ultimately
get addicted to it. Besides, there are some addicts whose neurological
heritage is such that they find it difficult to survive without the use of
alcohol or narcotic drugs and this ultimately makes them habitual
alcoholics or drug addicts.
5. Frustration and emotional stress due to failures, sorrows or miseries of
life, diverts people to join the company of addicts. For them drugs or
alcohol is a medicine—a blessing in disguise. In course of time they
become addicted to this vice.
6. Hippie-culture also detracts youngsters to drug addiction and they start it as a 'fun' or enjoyment. They start consuming drugs or alcohol on an experimental basis out of fun and enjoyment. The frequency of consumption gradually increases due to its narotic effect and finally a good majority of them turn out to be drug addicts and habituals.
7. The lack of knowledge of child psychology and communication-gap
between parents and young addicts are also contributory factors for
drug-abuse and alcoholism. People who do manual work often believe
that use of drugs such as alcohol, opium, ganja etc. provides them
added strength and vigour to withstand hard labour. This delusion of
physical vitality by use of alcohol or narotic drugs ultimately makes
them confirmed addicts.
8. Social disorganisation is also a contributing factor for the menace of
drug abuse or misuse. Frequent family strifes and breakdowns due to
poverty, temperamental differences, neighbourhood influences etc. may
divert a person to alcohol or drug consumption to overcome his
domestic and family problems. This may itself be a cause of tension
and quarrel in the family. Such persons ultimately fall a prey to drug
Thus the process of alcoholism and drug-addiction sets in when a person knowingly or unknowingly begins to consume alcohol or narcotic-drug as a medicine for a sound sleep at night or to get stimulation for work or to get relief from domestic problems or to repress depression, resentment, or to get rid of disturbing mental restlessness and so on.1 He prefers to remain in the world of imagination rather than facing realities of life. Gradually, he becomes addicted to alcohol or drug consumption and his dependence on these intoxicants increases at a relatively faster rate. Finally, he reaches a stage when he cannot live without wine or drug since it becomes his life-habit.
It must be stated that the use of opium and cannabis in the form of ganja and bhang was tolerated in India and had a religious sanction but addiction to them was confined to aged persons only. In modern times addiction has affected the Indian society to such an extent that even journalists, politicians, educationists etc. have started talking about this problem, particularly in college campuses. The spectrum of drugs abuse today is very wide covering the drugs of plant origin and a number of synthetic drugs of varying potency.
The National Committee on Drug Addiction was set up by the Government of India in 1976 to enquire into—
(i) the extent of addiction to drugs in the country ;
(ii) to determine motivation for drug addiction ;
(iii) to identify types of drugs that are misused and suggest steps to prevent misuse ;
(iv) to recommend suitable de-addiction and rehabilitation programmes.
The Committee in its Report suggested establishment of a National Advisory Board on Drug Control. It outlined the need for cooperation of Police, Excise and Drug Control Departments to curb this menace and necessity for creating awareness against drug addiction in the public. A Narcotics Central Board was established in 1985 under the Act.
International Perspective of the Problem
With the rapid expansion of trade and commerce beyond national boundaries, the problem of drug addiction and trafficking has become a global phenomenon. Therefore, as a measure of drug control, a thirteen-nation international conference on narcotic drug was held in China in 1909. Thereafter, the International Opinium Convention called the Hague Convention on Narcotics was held on 1912 which was the first drug traffic control treaty at the international level. This was followed by a series of conventions and declarations which were made to combat illegal drug trafficking which eventually led to the establishment of an International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) in 1961. It has been assigned the responsibility of ensuring the balance between supply and demand for narcotics purposes and make all out efforts to prevent illicit drug cultivation, manufacture, traffic and misuse.
Another International Convention on prevention, abuse and illegal trafficking in narcotics called the Convention on Psychotrophic Substances was signed in 1971 which came into force on 16 August. 1976. The convention has stressed the need for prevention of abuse of psychotrophic substances and early identification, treatment, education, after-care, rehabilitation and social reintegration of the persons involved. This was followed by setting up a five-years action programme by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1981 under the International Drug Abuse Control Strategy. It provides for a number of measures dealing with drug control, drug trafficking and treatment and rehabilitation strategy for addicts. It also seeks to intensify efforts to dismantle illegal drug-trafficking gangs and organisations.
An International Conference on Drug Control was held in Vienna from 17 to 26 June. 1987 under the auspices of United Nations. It focused attention on drug control policies and strategies which could be enforced at the national, regional and international level to prevent drug abuse and illegal trafficking of narcotic substances.
It must be stated that drug abuse is not only a national problem but it has transgressed the national boundaries and has become an international problem. It has, therefore, been realised in recent years that no country can deal with this problem of abuse of drugs without international co-operation and action. The Commission on Narcotics Drugs in close colloboration with the World Health Organisation adopted a convention on psychotropic substances and India has enacted the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act. 1985 to prevent drug-addiction. This Act was amended in 1988 and called the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1988. It provides for death penalty on conviction for a second drug trafficking offence.
An International Conference on Global Drugs Law was organised by the Indian Law Institute, Delhi, in co-sponsorship with the UNDCP and the International Law Association (India Regional Branch) from February 28 to March 3 in 1997. The conference reiterated its faith in human dignity and the legitimate aspiration of humankind for a decent life. It emphasised the need for generating universal consciousness of, and determination to battle, the drug problem in all its pervasive forms at the national, regional and international level. The conference, inter alia resolved :—
1. to accelerate the struggle against the scourge of drugs and to adopt measures to strengthen international co-operation and multi-disciplinary approach to tackle the problem.
2. to formulate effective strategy against drug-abuse, illicit production and
trafficking within the framework of guidelines in major international
3. to prevent and control the supply of drugs to affluent nations as the
bulk of demand for drugs comes from these nations:
4. to formulate a comprehensive system for the collection, evaluation and
dissemination of relevant data relating to drugs:
5. to workout an effective education programme for counteracting drug
abuse worldwide and preparing training and educational material for
the young people to assist them in developing vocational and
6. to ensure proper enforcement of a system of the international control
of narcotic drugs which includes control of cultivation, production,
manufacture, use, demand and supply of drugs for illicit use:
7. to ensure absolute curtailment of the enormous funds generated from
the drug trade by means of money laundering:
8. to create a special task-force of committed honest personnel having the
sanction of relevant government agency to mlillrate the network of
drug trade operators and bring them to justice.
The participants of the conference recognised the fact thai fight against drug-related crime is undermined by corruption, therefore, the Stale must review the effectiveness of their national laws and strategies against corruption.
On-Line Drug Trafficking—A Menace
More recently, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) in its annual report released on 20th February 2001 has observed that internet is fast becoming a growing source of on-line trafficking since it provides an easy access to controlled substances including narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances like benzodia/.epines, barbiturates and various amphetamine-type stimulants. While expressing concern over on-line shopping the report said that widespread overuse of controlled drugs to treat psychological problems caused by social pressures needs to be restricted by legal measures. With the expansion of internet shopping in recent years not only the internet sales have expanded but some companies are openly advertising on Internet that they provide controlled drugs without prescription. The remedy suggested by INCB is that countries should introduce legislative changes to allow prosecution of illicit internet drugstores. Shri C. Chakraborty. member of INCB has suggested thai the government should take preventive measures to restrict the "excessive availability" of controlled drugs on-line shopping as over-medication leads to untold physical and mental suffering.
Classification of Drugs Abuse
The International Convention on Drugs to which India is a signatory has classified drugs under two categories :—(a) Narcotic Drugs; and (b) Psychotropic Substances.
Narcotic Drugs.—The main drugs covered under this head are the following :—
(i) Opium and its derivatives like brown sugar, heroin and codeine,
(ii) Cocoleaf. cocaine :
(iii) Cannabis, cannabis resin, extracts and tinctures ;
(v) Methadene, pethedine, hebaine.
Psychotrophic Substances include valium, daizepam. tidijesic. morphine etc.
Alcoholism, Drug-Addicts and Crime
Like drug-addiction, alcoholism also causes disillusionment, unhappincss and troubles in family life. An alcoholic finds it difficult to adjust with other people and so are the others uncomfortable with him due to his drinking-habit. The mental faculty of an alcoholic does not function in a normal way with the result he loses self-control and often behaves improperly at times picking up quarrels, accusing, abusing or insulting others or committing acts of aggression and violence. Thus an alcoholic, while he is drunk is an irresponsible person faultering and pampering in many ways and prone to criminality at any moment. The acts of indecency or assault are usually committed by the persons who are under the influence of liquor or narcotic drugs.
The abuse of drugs2 and alcoholism spells disaster not only for the addict but also to his family and the society as a whole. It affects the individual's health and upsets his family life. That apart, these evils give rise to law and order problems, reduction in economic production and retards human welfare. Some of these drugs alter the senses while others cause depression. They are mostly derived from herbs and plants.
Drug-Addicts and Crime
Besides alcoholism, drug-addiction is also closely interconnected with crime. Compulsion for narcotic makes every drug-addict a law-violator and criminal. Mere possession of narcotic is also an offence punishable under the law and therefore drug-addiction by itself adds to the crime-statistics.
American researches on relationship between drug-addiction and crime have shown that narcotic addicts often commit predatory crimes such as larceny, shop-lifting, stealing, burglary, robbery etc. The drug-addicts generally lead a criminal life. It is often noticed that addicts of narcotic drugs mostly resort to theft to obtain money for procuring drugs.3 Most persons become delinquent after they have started use of narcotic drugs. Many violent offenders take narcotic drugs to get stimulation and courage and commit violent acts such as murder, burglary, extortion, rape etc. which they might not otherwise commit when not drugged." Dr. Kolb, however, disagreed with this view and suggested that crimes committed by opiate addicts are generally of a parasitic, predatory and non-violent type. If drug addicts commit violent crimes it is not because they are addicts, but because so many of them are psychopaths. Dr. Kolb further observed that narcotics like opium, heroin, morphine and cocaine change the violent fighting psychopaths into dull, cowardly non-aggressive idlers. In his view, drug addiction eliminates or at least reduces sex-desire of the addict.
Another question which is too often raised in context of criminal traits of drug addicts is whether criminality in them precedes or follows addiction. That is to say. whether the addicts are already delinquents before they take to addiction or they become so subsequently. Conflicting views have been expressed on this point by Prof. Percor and Dr. Kolb. Prof. Percor made an intensive study of 1,036 addicts in Lexington and reached a conclusion that seventy-five per cent of them had no history of delinquency prior to addiction. Anslinger, however, has expressed a contrary view and suggested that drug-addicts are already criminals before they take to addiction.2 Dr. Kolb also studied a group of 119 persons who became drug-addicts as a result of medical prescription of narcotics for ailments and found that ninety of them were without any prior career of delinquency5 and crime. The studies conducted by the researchers of New York and Chicago Universities, however, suggest that delinquency precedes as well as follows addiction. Be that as it may, it is now generally agreed that after addiction, the criminal hardly sheds off his habit of delinquency as he adopts it as a way of life with his advancing age. Thus, most addicts who are adolescent offenders turn into habitual and professional criminals when they grow older in life.
A British study reveals that the problem of criminality has been further aggravated by drug addiction. The British Health Education Council has estimated that consumption of alcohol in Britain increased by 37 per cent and the number of alcoholics has increased by 47 per cent.
The U.N. Report on abuse of drugs has concluded that the relationship between drugs and misery and crime compelled the governments to interfere in their use and sale.
Global statistics indicate that various parts of the world are drastically affected by drug hazard and the problem has reached alarming dimensions particularly in Middle East, South-East Asia, Eastern Europe, Canada, Mexico, U.S.A.. Central America and Africa. Heroin which was practically unknown in Africa, is now extensively being used (abused) in Mauritius and Nigeria. Ghana has also become a centre of drug abuse in recent years.
Since Bolivia, Peru and Columbia commonly known as "Cocaine triad" are largest cocaine producers in the world, they are obviously the largest supplier of this narcotic to other parts of the world. In Brazil also, illicit drug trafficking has lately increased due to its extensive borders with Columbia, Peru and Bolivia. It has now become the largest manufacturer of acetone and ethylether.
An Analysis of Indian Law
In view of the alarming increase in drug menace in India, the Parliament enacted the Narcotics Drugs & Psychotrophic Substances Act, 1985 which was later amended and called the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs & Psychotrophic Substances (Amendment) Act, 1988 and came into force on July 4,1988.
The Act emphasises on the preventive aspect of drug evil and covers a wide list of substances that are recognised as narcotic drugs. It seeks to prevent people from the dangers of drug-abuse. It was for the first time in India, that legislation recognised a wide list of substances that were categorised as dangerous drugs.
The main policy underlying the Act is to prohibit supply and distribution (trafficking) of prohibited drugs, for which minimum sentence of ten years, which may extend to 20 years, with a minimum fine of rupees one lakh, and a maximum upto two lakhs has been prescribed. The Act makes no distinction between a drug addict and a drug-trafficker in respect of punishment except under Sections 27 and 64-A of the Act.
Section 27 of the Act provides that if a drug addict proves that he possessed drug of less than 'small quantity' as notified by the Central Government and that it was for his own personal consumption and not for sale, he or she shall be liable to punishment which may extend to maximum one year.
Section 64-A provides immunity to a drug addict from criminal liability provided he proves that the offence is committed for the first time and he or she voluntarily agrees to be treated for de-addiction in a recognised institution.
Section 71 of the Act provides for rehabilitative and reformative measures for an addict whether he is an offender or not. The provision of this section seems to have been based on the principle that the purpose of reformative penology is to "destroy criminality in a human being without destroying humanity in a criminal". This is undoubtedly, more in tune with the Supreme Court's view that "right to life includes right to live with dignity" as envisaged by Article 21 of the Constitution. Thus the Act combines within it deterrance and reformative techniques of punishment to tackle the problem of drug addiction and trafficking effectively.
It is significant to note that heroin addiction in India was virtually non-existent before 1980 as per the enforcement agencies report. In 1989 there were an estimated 800.000 heroin addicts in India and their number has increased almost ten times in 1994.
In India also drug addiction is spreading like wild fire as could be seen from the fact that heroin was being recently smuggled even in dead bodies. Two Nigerian nationals were sentenced to 12 years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 2 lakh by Greater Bombay Principal Judge Mr. S.A. Kirtikar on 25th Dec, 1987 under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPSA) for smuggling huge quantity of heroin in dead bodies.
The Supreme Court of India, in Dawood Lama's case confirmed the conviction of the accused, a foreign national under the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, and sentenced him to 10 years rigorous imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs. 100,000/- and in default further undergo rigorous imprisonment for two years. In this case brown sugar was seized from the accused which is a narcotic drug and not a psychotropic substance. The Court further ruled that under NDPS Act the police officer taking search is duty bound to inform the person arrested that if he so desired he shall be searched in the presence of a Gazetted Officer or a Magistrate.
In Bircndra Kumar Rai v. Union of India. the Supreme Court further held that in a case falling under the Prevention of Illegal Traffic in Narcotic Drugs & Psychotrophic Substances Act, 1988, the accused should be sternly dealt with under Section 3 of the Act and provisions of Article 22(5) of the Constitution of India are not attracted in such cases. Therefore, the detention of the accused under the Act shall not be held arbitrary.
Measures to Control Alcoholism & Drug Addiction
Efforts to control alcoholism and drug addiction have been made by introducing stringent legislative measures to regulate the manufacture, transportation and sale of these products and ban on their possession or use for other than medical and scientific purposes. The use of alcohol and narcotic drugs for cure or treatment purposes has, however, been permitted to cater to the legitimate needs through a proper licensing system and regulatory measures. International control of narcotic-drugs is attained through International agreements and conventions reached between nations under the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs to which India is a signatory.
Apart from regulatory measures to control alcoholism and drug addiction, the system of licensing physicians to give drugs to addicts at a reasonable rate also helps in preventing their exploitation from the underworld peddlers and thus mitigating this crime.
In India, various legislative measures have been introduced to control alcoholism and sale of alcoholic beverages. Several States introduced prohibition laws during the preceding decades. The Prohibition Enquiry Committee appointed by the Planning Commission in its report of June, 1955, recommended that the scheme of prohibition and anti-drug should be integrated with the country's development plans with a view to control alcoholism and improve the standard of living of the people. The Committee also suggested that a Central Prohibition Committee be established to review the progress of prohibition and co-ordinate the related activities in different States. Accepting the recommendations of the Committee the Lok Sabha by a resolution passed on March 19, 1956 made prohibition an integral part of the Second Five-Year Plan. In result, several States introduced regulatory measures to curb the tendency of alcoholism. Some Slates resorted to complete prohibition while others preferred to follow a phased programme.
Despite these prohibitory measures to control alcoholism, the consumption of liquor and other intoxicating drugs has hardly been reduced. The theory of creating scarcity of liquor by prohibitory laws with a view to discouraging 'drinking' habit has not yielded desired results. On the contrary, demand for liquor has all the more increased and opened new vistas for blackmailing, smuggling and illicit distilling.
The Government have realised that strict laws prohibiting sale and consumption of alcohol have not delivered the goods and the policy needs to be reviewed once again. In fact, the consumption of wine and liquor has taken the shape of a fashion in today's ultra modern societies. Therefore, it cannot be curbed by prohibitory laws unless people who habitually drink volunatrily give it up. It is for this reason that many States have withdrawn their prohibition-laws and are content with a balanced regulatory policy under which liquor is available for sale only in licensed shops at a fair price. The heavy loss of revenue due to "dry-laws" is perhaps the real cause which has prompted the States to withdraw 'prohibition'. Presumably, the Stale Governments prefer to risk the dangers of alcoholism rather than losing crorcs of rupees by way of revenue. In result, the liquor industry has thrived in huge proportions and has gained importance among the public in spite of continued opposition.1
As stated earlier, Article 47 of the Constitution of India contains a mandate relating to policy of prohibition. It casts a duty on the Union and the States to initiate adequate measures to implement this directive principle for improvement of public health. This subject is at present in the State List. But in view of the laxity on the part of State Governments to implement the policy of prohibition on liquor, it is desirable that a national policy on the subject be framed. This would obviously require the transference of this subject from State List to the Union List as a Central subject. The consumption of liquor at public places, functions, farewells and receptions etc. must be totally banned and violation of liquor laws should be severely dealt with.
The entire gamut of legislation in India is directed against illicit trafficking in drug and alcoholic substances. The machinery utilised for the purpose at Central level includes the Department of Customs, Central Excise Narcotics Commissioner, Central Bureau of Investigation, Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Border Security Force and the Drugs Controller. At State level the State Excise, Police and Drug Control authorities control the menace of drug addiction and alcoholism.
In order to co-ordinate the activities of the various enforcement agencies involved in the anti-drug trafficking, a Central authority called the Narcotic Control Bureau with a wide range of functions has been set up. The main functions of the Bureau are—
(1) Co-ordination of all enforcement actions by various Central and State
(2) Implementation of counter measures against illicit drug trafficking under
international protocols, conventions and treaties.
(3) Assistance to the concerned authorities in foreign countries.
The NDPS Act has provided for the establishment of special courts for expeditious trial of drug addicts and traffickers.
Particularly, the problem of use and abuse of drugs and trafficking in drugs has wide ramifications. The organised criminal-gangs in smuggling of drugs operate-across national frontiers. The United Nations Commission on Narcotic.
Drugs and the International Narcotic Control Board are the international organisations which are seized with the problem of eradication of drug addiction. The main function of the international bodies is to provide machinery for giving full effect to the international conventions relating to narcotic drugs and to provide for continuous review and progress in the international control of these drugs.
An unprecedented convention against drug trafficking was adopted by consensus in Vienna on December 19, 1988 by 108 countries seeking better international co-operation in bringing drug-traffickers to justice. It was a major step towards solving the 'global crisis' of today's drug problems. It was characterised as a "major achievement" in international co-operation. The convention, however, regretted that signatories could not agree on the mandatory extradition of drug trafficking nationals to third countries wanting to prosecute them.
The Narcotics Control Board (NCB) in India has suggested that person convicted of drug crimes should automatically forfeit any property he or she acquires with illegal drug money.
It would not be out of place to mention here that corruption which is rampant among the enforcement agencies because of the temptation of economic advantage is also one of the contributory factors for inadequate enforcement of the NDPS Act. Drug traffickers generally operate and carry on their nefarious activities in close liaison with the concerned officials or the enforcement agencies paying them handsomely for the illegal favour shown to them. The so called 'deal' being quite attractive, the officials get lured by the temptation.
The lack of adequate training to the concerned officials in skilful investigation of drug-trafficking cases often leads to lacunae and loopholes in the procedure of investigation which enables drug peddlers and addicts to escape prosecution. That apart, lack of motivation on the part of enforcement agencies is also one of the causes for the inefficient implementation of the NDPS Act.
Thus, it would be seen that despite these efforts, the sale and purchase of narcotic drugs as also the alcohol is a major crime-problem which purturbs the law enforcement officials who are concerned with prevention of crime. Systematic rackets operate throughout the country to supply liquor and other narcotic drugs to alcoholics and addicts. Those involved in these illegal activities earn huge profits. Even international gangs dealing with this contraband traffic are known to be operative throughout the world.1 News regarding raid cases in which narcotics worth lakhs of rupees is seized by the Excise or the Customs Department are often seen in papers and magazines. Commenting on this aspect of the problems, Donald Taft observed that many crime-problems in relation to alcoholism and drug addiction are not so much drug created problems as law created crime problems.2 After all, the harm caused to addicts and their families on account of these ill-habits is far greater than the injury resulting therefrom to the society. Perhaps, some sort of moral education and constructive use of regulatory licensing may help in curbing the problem of alcoholism and drug-addiction to a considerable extent. In fact, there is need to re-define the twin problems of alcoholism and drug-addiction in a socio-medical perspective rather than considering it as a mere law enforcement problem.3
Remedial Measures :
Like any other socio-lcgal problem, the problem of drug addiction and abuse is a complex problem. Besides the legislative measures for combating this menace, some other remedial measures may, to a large extent, help in preventing this evil are as follows :
1. There is dire need to evolve an effective control mechanism to check
unrestricted production of drugs and their sale in open markets. The
present licensing system has proved inadequate in exercising proper
control on the producers of drugs especially cannabis and alcohol.
2. As staled earlier, lack of proper enforcement and implementation of
related legislation on drugs has resulted into steady increase in drug
and alcohol menace. For this purpose, there is greater need to muster
public support and co-operation through active publicity programmes.
3. Perhaps the best remedy to contain this evil is to educate people about
the harmful effects of drug addiction and consumption of liquor. This
kind of education would be most beneficial for the adolescents and
school or college going students. The voluntary social organisations and
mass-media can also usefully impart this education. Scientifically
correct knowledge and education about evil effects of intoxication and
drug-addiction should, in fact, form a part of regular curriculum at the
4. Early detection of drug addicts and their prompt treatment and
resocialisation may help to prevent drug addiction to a large extent.
The role of social organisations in rehabilitating the drug addicts need
hardly be emphasised. The Government of India is providing liberal
grants to the State Governments to start drug de-addiction centres. As
the problem of drug abuse is very acute especially in North-Eastern
Region, the Government has decided to give 100 per cent assistance to
At present 84 Drug-De-addiction Centres are being run in 18 States and in Delhi by non-government organisations. The Ministry of Welfare provides grants to voluntary organisations for this purpose. These Centres are actively involved in the task of treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts.
Drunkenness and Criminal Responsibility
Consumption of alcohol and intoxicating beverages results into drunkenness.
Therefore, a word must be said about 'drunkenness' as a defence for criminal
responsibility. Section 85 of the Indian Penal Code provides :
"Nothing is an offence which is done by a person who at the time of doing it, by reason of intoxication, was incapable of knowing the nature of the act, or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law provided that the thing which intoxicated him was administered to him without his knowledge or against his will."
Thus, the provision makes it clear that voluntary drunkenness is no excuse for the commission of a crime. Nevertheless, drunkenness, does not, in the eye of the law, make an offence more heinous. But if a man is made to drink through stratagem or the fraud of others or through ignorance or any other means causing intoxication without the man's knowledge or against his will, he is excused. If a person, by the unskilfulness of his physician or the connivance of his enemies eais or drinks such a thing as causes frenzy, this puts him in the same condition with any other frenzy and equally excuses him.
Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code provides immunity from criminal responsibility on the ground of unsoundness of mind. Unsoundness of mind can be caused due to madness, sickness, lunacy or intoxication. Thus insanity brought on by drunkenness is a good defense provided it is caused involuntarily.
A person is said to be insane when he does not, and cannot understand the nature and quality of his act, or is incapable of knowing that he is doing what is wrong or contrary to law. Intention or guilty knowledge being an essential element of the crime, the fact that the accused was intoxicated at the time he committed the act may be taken into consideration in deciding whether he formed the intention necessary to constitute the crime.
In order to make the point clear, it would be prudent to refer to the observations made by the Court of Appeal in the famous case of Director of Public Prosecutions v. Majewski. The facts of the case in brief were :
In this case M, a drug addict, took about 20 tablets of deszedrinc and the next evening he took about eight tablets of barbiturate, he then went into a public house to take a drink. There was a disturbance and the landlord began to escort M's friend to the door. The friend cried, "he's pulling me out." M got up, abused the landlord, butted him in the face and punched a customer. The landlord and the customers ejected the pair from the bar. but they re-entered by forcing the other door, and breaking a glass panel. M then punched the landlord and started swinging a piece of broken glass and injuring him. When the police arrived, a fierce struggle took place to get him out. He shouted at the police, "You pigs, I will kill you all", and kicked two of the officers. M said he could remember nothing of this incident. The Court found on facts that M was able to respond to a request for assistance by his companion ; he was able to direct his violence, and he was able to utter abuses and issue threats before he attacked. Therefore, on these facts his plea of intoxication was rejected.
The Indian case of Manindra Lai Das v. Emperor is yet another illustration of Court's attitude towards the defence of intoxication. In this case the accused, a police officer, shot a prostitute with whom he was friendly and wounded her. He was charged with the offence of attempt to commit murder under Section 307, I.P.C. and voluntarily causing grievous hurt under Section 326. He set up the defence of intoxication. The trial judge in his direction observed :
"If an act is done in a state of intoxication and that intoxication is voluntarily incurred he is equally liable before the law as if he had done that act in a state of soberiety."
In an appeal before the High Court the direction was held to be wrong on the ground that "knowledge" is not synonymous with intention.
Thus, it may be concluded that though voluntary drunkenness cannot be an excuse for the commission of an offence yet where the question is whether the act was premeditated or done due to sudden heat and impulse, the fact of the party being intoxicated, is held to be a circumstance proper to be taken into consideration in mitigation of sentence justifying leniency.
The main problem in cases where intoxication is pleaded in defence is whether the offender was really intoxicated at the time of the commission of the offence. Medical evidence quite often helps to reach a correct conclusion in this regard. That apart, a more recent device to determine the alcoholic condition of a person is through the use of an instrument called "drunkomeler". This apparatus delects the presence of alcoholic percentage in the blood stream of a person and thus helps lo find out whether the person was under the influence of liquor or not at a given time. It also helps in determining the extent of alcoholic condition of the drunken person and its effect on his mental faculty.
Studies on drug addiction, however, reveal that the problem of drug abuse and alcoholism is not confined to cities alone but it equally persists in rural areas as well. It equally affects the economically depressed classes, middle classes, upper classes and ultra-modern social groups. However, in cities mostly youth and students are affected whereas in rural areas the agriculturists and labour classes arc generally addicted to drugs.
More recently, special treatment centres have been set up by social welfare agencies to deal with alcoholics and drug addicts. In Bombay. The Samaritans a social welfare agency is doing commendable work in the area of rehabilitation of drug addicts. It is high time that Government should also consider setting up special treatment centres for the rehabilitation of drug-addicts and alcoholics.
The modern processes of development have opened the floodgates of offences and drug-offences are no exception to this global phenomenon. It hardly needs to be stressed that alcoholism and drug-addiction are the off-shoots of modem fast changing social patterns, hence these twin problems should be tackled in their socio-legal perspective. Then only concrete results may be possible.
Undoubtedly intensive surveillance on the border check-posts and awareness among the public about the evil effects of drug and alcohol addiction have brought about a decline in drug trafficking in recent years but much more still remains to be done in order to eradicate this menace which is damaging the moral fabric of Indian society and culture.