Trigger Warning: The following content contains information on drugs and narcotics which some readers may find disturbing.
Police officers and certain other authorities have wide powers to search and arrest people in relation to crimes committed under this law, and in many cases without a warrant 1
Search a place or a vehicle
If the police officer has reason to believe, either from their own findings or receive written information about a crime being committed in relation to narcotic drugs, psychotropic or controlled substances, they can enter any building, place or vehicle like a car, truck, etc and search the same. If anyone obstructs their entry, they can even break open the door or remove any obstacle in their way.
Searching a person
If an authorised police officer wants to search you, you can ask the search to be conducted in the presence of a magistrate or certain gazetted officers. Once you make this request, you can be detained by the police officer till you can be brought before a magistrate or an appropriate gazetted officer. However, if the police officer believes that it is not possible to wait for a gazetted officer or a magistrate, he can proceed with the search2
Please note that women can only be searched by a woman officer.
In the process of the search, the police officer also has the power to seize the following:
- Drugs, substances and anything used to manufacture it
- Any article, vehicle or animal that may have been used in the process
- Any documents or articles that can be evidence and prove that a crime in relation to drugs was committed
While carrying out the search and seizure, if the police officer believes that a crime has been committed in relation to drugs or narcotics, he can even arrest the suspected person. He may not always need a warrant for such an arrest. 3
These powers of search, seizure and arrest of a police officer also extend to a public place like a hotel, restaurant, shop or any other place accessible to the public 4
You have certain rights when you are arrested. To know more about these rights, please read here.
Immediate Cases – No Warrant Needed
While ideally this search and seizure has to be done in the day time, i.e. between sunrise and sunset and with a warrant from an appropriate judge, if the police officer believes that in the time taken to obtain the warrant the necessary evidence could be concealed or the suspect may escape, he can carry out the search and seizure without a warrant. In such cases he will have to note down his reasons for doing this in writing and inform his immediate supervisor within 72 hours. 51
- Section 42, Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.
- Section 50(5), Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.
- Section 42(1)(d), Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.
- Section 423, Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.
- Section 42(2)(d), Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.