Lok Sabha clears NDPS Act amendment amid Opposition protest

The “error” crept in when the NDPS Act was amended in 2014 to allow better medical access to narcotic drugs, and removing state barriers in transporting and licensing of essential narcotic drugs.

Published: 14th December 2021 08:05 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st December 2021 01:12 AM   |  A+A-

Lok Sabha. (Photo | PTI)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Parliament passed a bill to rectify errors that had crept into the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, with Rajya Sabha giving its nod to it on Monday.

The Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Bill-2021 was passed by Lok Sabha on December 13.

Moving the bill in the Upper House for its consideration and passage, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said it replaces the ordinance which was promulgated in September this year as Parliament was not in session then.

Rajya Sabha passed the bill by a voice vote.

Before the bill was passed, the Congress staged a walkout as Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge took strong objection to him not being given an opportunity to speak and expressed his anguish, saying "LoP is given priority to speak. (I am) begging, asking (to speak)."

After rasing the issue of suspension of 12 members of Rajya Sabha and mentioning about the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, he along with other Congress members staged a walkout.

Moving the bill, Sitharaman said, "There was an order of the High Court of Tripura, which very quickly wanted us to take it up and therefore we had to bring the Ordinance."

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Ordinance was promulgated on September 30, 2021.

"I wish the opposition participated in this debate and then passes this legislation," she said.

The anomaly crept in when the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act was amended in 2014 to allow better medical access to narcotic drugs, and removing state barriers in transporting and licensing of essential narcotic drugs.

Before she moved the bill in Rajya Sabha, Congress MP Shaktisinh Gohil moved a resolution for the House to disapprove the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021.

He was, however, disallowed by Bhubaneswar Kalita, who was in the Chair, to raise the matter of suspension 12 opposition MPs and the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.

Taking part in the discussion in Rajya Sabha, Congress MP Digvijaya Singh said that to correct what has been told as "clerical error" it has taken six years since 2014 for the Narcotics Bureau and the government to identify the mistake.

He was also not allowed to raise the matter of 12 suspended opposition MPs and the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.

BJP MP GVL Narashima Rao objected to "defamatory words against the government" used by Singh and asked the Chair to delete it from the records.

Another BJP MP Suresh Gopi, while supporting the bill, called for a balance in the law for controlling narcotics addiction and availability of opioid medicines, which are required as pain killers to many patients, especially those suffering from cancer.

The Chair did not allow Md Nadimul Haque (AITC) to speak when he tried to raise the Lakhimpur Kheri violence matter and Tiruchi Siva (DMK) who tried to raise the matter of the suspension of 12 MPs.

Replying on the discussion on the bill, Sitharaman said the error in the bill was committed during the previous UPA regime.

"Some members Digvijaya Singh from Congress and others. Also in a way Mrs Jaya Bachchan saying 'what have you done? Why did you take so much time to correct the error?' Sir Let me humbly submit that this error was committed during UPA time. We are correcting that error," he said.

"This error was committed in a bill which was introduced in 2011 and they took up to 2014 to pass the bill and when it was passed in February 2014 and then when it got notified on May 1, 2014 before the elections," the minister said.

On the need for Ordinance route, she said, "This was necessitated because of the Tripura High Court's observation and we wanted to get immediately acting on it. Because the confusion brought in very delicate implementation problem.

Later, the House referred the Biological Diversity Bill to a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament.

Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav moved the motion to refer the bill to the Joint Committee with 21 members of the Lok Sabha and 10 members from the Rajya Sabha.

The motion was also passed by voice vote in Lok Sabha earlier in the day.

The committee is expected to submit its report to the House by the last day of the first week of the next session.

The committee will have Lok Sabha members Sanjay Jaiswal, Diya Kumari, Heena Gavit, Aparajita Sarangi, Raju Bista, Pallab Lochan Das, Santosh Pandey, Prathap Simha, Jugal Kishore Sharma, Brijendra Singh, Ajay Tamta, Jagdambika Pal (all BJP), Gaurav Gogoi, S Jothimani (both Congress), A Raja (DMK), Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar (Trinamool), Sridhar Kotagiri (YSRCP), Prataprao Jadhav (Shiv Sena), Sunil Kumar Pintu (JD-U), Achyutananda Samanta (BJD) and Ritesh Pandey (BSP).

The Rajya Sabha members who are part of the joint committee are Shiv Pratap Shukla (BJP) , Dr Anil Aggarwal (BJP), Neeraj Shekhar (BJP), Ramilaben Bara (BJP), Jairam Ramesh (Congress), Jawhar Sircar (TMC), Tiruchi Siva (DMK), Amar Patnaik (BJD), Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) and Ram Nath Thakur (JDU).

The bill seeks to relax certain rules in the Biodiversity Act 2002 in order to fast-track research and patenting as well as empower local communities to be able to utilise resources, particularly of medicinal value, such as seeds.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had demanded that the bill be referred to a standing committee of Parliament.


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