The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985 and what is ‘conscious possession’ of drugs?

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, commonly referred to as the NDPS Act, is an Act of the Parliament of India that prohibits a person the production/manufacturing/cultivation, possession, sale, purchasing, transport, storage, and/or consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance. The Act extends to the whole of India and it applies also to all Indian citizens outside India and to all persons on ships and aircraft registered in India.

The Narcotics Control Bureau was set up under the act with effect from March 1986.


India had no laws related to narcotics until 1985. Cannabis and its derivatives (marijuana, hashish/charas and bhang) were legally sold in India until 1985. Consumption of cannabis was not seen as socially deviant behaviour, and was viewed as being similar to the consumption of alcohol. Ganja and charas were considered by upper class Indians as the poor man’s intoxicant, although the rich consumed bhang during Holi.

The United States began to campaign for a worldwide law against all drugs. However, India opposed the move, and withstood American pressure to make cannabis illegal for nearly 25 years. American pressure increased in the 1980s, and in 1985, the Rajiv Gandhi government enacted the NDPS Act, banning all narcotic drugs in India.

Conscious Possession of drugs under NDPS Act

The simple meaning of conscious is being aware of and possession means the state of having, owning, or controlling something.

The NDPS Act itself does not use the term ‘conscious possession’. The term has its origin from the Supreme Court judgements which feel that the term possession under the NDPS Act should mean conscious or mental possession and not just physical possession.

For example, if a delivery partner is caught delivering a package containing illegal drugs, he/she will not be held liable for the offence.

‘Possession’ consists of two elements- one, the physical control and second the intent. Courts have drawn this element of mental state from S.35 of the NDPS Act which deals with the presumption of mental state of accused.

For instance, if two or more people are in a car carrying a large quantity of drugs can all the people be said to have “conscious possession” of the narcotics or can only one person be charged?

Section 35 of the NDPS Act says there can be a presumption of a “culpable mental state”. That then pushes the onus of proving his or her innocence onto the accused person.

Recent Case: Aryan Khan, Arbaaz Merchant & others

The two friends were arrested at a terminal when they were about to go on a cruise ship party. Khan, Merchant, and several others were detained under laws “related to possession, consumption and sale of illegal substances.” The charges against Khan include purchase, possession and use of banned substances, the Narcotics Control Board (NCB) had said.

Although no possession was found from accused Aryan Khan, six gms of charas was found from accused two his friend Arbaaz Merchant of which Aryan had the knowledge and thus it can be said that it was in conscious possession of both the accused,” the judge said in the detailed order.

The NCB built its case on the fact that Merchant had charas in his shoe and that the accused allegedly admitted to investigators that they intended to use the drug for “consumption and enjoyment.”


Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at

We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.