Possession of Cough Syrup Or Medicine Containing Narcotic Substances Without Valid Documents is NDPS Offence : MP High Court

Cough Syrup without Valid Prescription

Law Point :  Possession of Cough Syrup without Valid Prescription is NDPS Offence, if the Medicine Containing Narcotic Substances

Brief of the Case : The Madhya Pradesh High Court has held that possession of cough syrup or medicine containing narcotic substances without valid documents will attract the stringent provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

In a matter where cough syrup constituting of narctoics substances were found without prescription or any other valid document, Justice Rajeev Kumar Dubey refused bail under Section 37 of the NDPS Act, 1985 by placing reliance on precedents set by the apex court. Section 37 lays that offences under the statute will be cognizable and non-bailable.

The prosecution’s case is that the applicant and co-accused were apprehended, and 30 100ml bottles of Onerex Cough Syrup containing codeine phosphate, a narcotic substance, were seized from their joint possession. After that, an FIR under Sections 8, 21, 22 of the NDPS Act and Section 5 and 13 of the Madhya Pradesh Drug Control Act, 1951 was registered.

Advocate appearing for applicants, submitted that the applicants have no criminal past and have been falsely implicated in the case. Praying for bail, he informed the Court that the applicants are in custody since April 2021, the charge-sheet has been filed, and the conclusion of trial is likely to take time.

Opposing the grant of bail, Advocate appearing for respondent-State, submitted that the applicant and co-accused did not have documents to keep the said amount of cough syrup consisting of a narcotic substance in their possession. Thereby, under Section 37 of the NDPS Act, bail should not be granted.

While refusing bail, the Court relied on State of Punjab v. Rakesh Kumar (2018), where the Supreme Court held that dealing in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances is permissible only when such dealing is for medical purposes or scientific purposes. However, the mere fact that the dealing in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances is for a medical or scientific purpose does not by itself lift the embargo created under Section 8(c) of the Act. The Supreme Court had remarked,

“Such a dealing must be in the manner and extent provided by the provision of the Act, rules or orders made thereunder. Sections 9 and 10 enable the Central and the State Governments respectively to make rules permitting and regulating various aspects (contemplated under Section 8(c), of dealing in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances).”

Section 8(c) of the Act bars production, manufacture, sale, purchase, transportation, and consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substances except for medical or scientific purposes.

The Court also relied on Mohd. Sahabuddin v. State of Assam (2012), where it was held that the appellants’ failure to establish that the drugs were being transported for therapeutic practice would bar them from taking the exemption of medical purposes.

For ascertaining the quantity, whether ‘small or commercial’, reliance was placed on Heera Singh v. Union of India (2020), where it was held that in case of seizure of mixture of narcotic substances with one or more neutral substances, the quantity of neutral substance(s) is not to be excluded and to be taken into consideration along with actual content by weight of the offending drug.

Case Title: Rajkamal Namdev v. State of Madhya Pradesh.

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