The Delhi High Court has refused to issue notice to the Central Government in a public interest litigation petition seeking decriminalization of cannabis.
Senior Advocate Aravind Datar, appearing for the petitioners, submitted before the Division Bench of Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Hari Shankar that cannabis was legal in India until 1985, however, the Indian government imposed a ban on cannabis following the United States of America ban on the substance.
He argued that the recent report by the United Nations has stated that the findings on which cannabis was banned in the USA is scientifically flawed. Post that report, 24 states in Europe, United Kingdom and 33 States in the US itself have decriminalized the use of cannabis.
Datar highlighted that there are two kinds of cannabis - one that serves a medical purpose, and the other which is used for recreation. However, the government just relied upon that US report that had come out in the 1980s to put a blanket ban on cannabis.
He also cited judgments in Sabarimala, Adultery case and Navtej Jauhar to argue that, 'when the foundation of the crime doesn't exist, how can the crime be allowed to be in force'.
Datar also questioned the decision of the government to bring about amendments in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, through the route of Finance Act. 'What does NDPS have to do with finances', he questioned. Therefore, Datar had asked for a notice to be issued to the government to file an affidavit.
Counsel for the government, on the other hand, mentioned that they have not banned cannabis but they have put a regulatory mechanism for it.
The Bench, however, refused the plea of Datar to issue a notice to the government. 'If you're prepared, you should argue. We can't issue notice to government just because you want more time', the Bench noted.