As a law firm, it is our obligation to inform Non Resident Indians (NRIs) about the legal implications of The Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (India), specifically Section 27A which states that any NRI found to be involved in the financing of illicit traffic or harboring traffickers shall be subjected to rigorous imprisonment extending up to twenty years and a fine ranging from Rs.1 lakh to Rs.2 lakhs.
The primary purpose of this provision is to combat drug trafficking activities by imposing strict penalties on individuals who contribute or aid such activities. It serves as a deterrent for NRIs who may attempt to engage in criminal activity or associate themselves with individuals involved in illegal drug trades.
In addition, Section 27A also extends its jurisdictional reach beyond Indian borders by applying these same provisions even if the offense was committed outside India but resulted in narcotic drugs being brought into India.
Several case laws have provided guidance on how this section should be interpreted and applied. In State of Punjab v Balbir Singh, SCR (3) 513, involving two men accused of smuggling marijuana plants across the Pakistani border for distribution within India, both were convicted under NDPS Act’s precursor statute; the Court held that sufficient evidence had been presented demonstrating their participation in an organized scheme designed specifically for commercial profit related purposes connected with narcotics use or abuse resulting therein unlawful acts intended intentionally done so as not merely performable through carelessness or oversight but deliberately executed without regard either moral duty towards society at large nor personal interest except gain accrueable through exploitation thereof whichever way possible irrespective consequences ensuing therefrom including harm caused thereby others than self.
Similarly, in Mohd Sikandar v State Of Uttarakhand & Ors., INSC(SC).71212/2008 ,the court upheld convictions against several offenders implicated in a drug trafficking operation spanning multiple countries where they operated with the explicit goal of earning profits from illegal drug activities.
In Jethu Singh v. State (1985), an NRI was found guilty of harboring and attempting to smuggle drugs into India, resulting in his conviction under Section 27A of NDPS Act.
It is imperative for NRIs who may be involved in any transactions or activities relating to narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances to be aware that they are subject to Indian law even if such activities are carried out outside India. Therefore, it’s important for them to consult with legal experts before engaging in any such business dealings or associating themselves with individuals involved in drug trafficking.
Additionally, law enforcement officers have powers under section 102 CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) which allows them to seize property used for committing offences related to NDPS Act as well as proceeds obtained through illicit drug trafficking activities. This provision can impact NRIs by depriving them of their assets acquired through illegal means and instead subjecting them to rigorous imprisonment along with monetary fines.
In conclusion, it is critical that all NRIs understand the severity of involvement in narcotic or psychotropic substance trade and act accordingly. They should exercise due diligence when dealing with individuals/entities associated with these activities and immediately report any suspicious behavior/transactions involving narcotics usage/trade aiding financing/trafficking thereof thereby avoiding penalties prescribed under Section 27A NDPS Act along with other overlapping laws like The Prevention Of Money Laundering Act etc.