The abolition of opium smoking in India

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Creation Date: 1957/01/01

The abolition of opium smoking in India

Vol. VII, No. 3-4, September-December 1955, of the Bulletin on Narcotics contained an article by Sir Ram Nath Chopra and I. C. Chopra on "Quasi-medical use of opium in India and its effects" - i.e., on the question of opium eating in India. The present article gives an account of the question of opium smoking and the policy of the Government of India in this regard. The opium policy of the Government of India is of course necessarily a single whole, and the two articles should be regarded as complementary. This article has been prepared from official sources by the secretariat with the co-operation of the Indian authorities.

I

Exactly when the habit of opium smoking first obtained a foothold in India, or when the preparations made for smoking were first introduced, is not quite clear. Even up to the beginning of the nineteenth century, no writer had recorded the smoking of opium in India, although it prevailed in China. Available data point to the possibility of the introduction of opium smoking in India by Mohammedan traders from Persia and Afghanistan. The habit appears to have spread initially among the wealthy classes of society, particularly during the days of the decline of the Mogul empire.

In India, two preparations of opium have generally been used for smoking, madak and chandu. The use of madak in India has been considered to be much more extensive than that of chandu, and in most parts of the country this preparation was smoked. The following is, briefly, the method employed for its preparation: Raw opium is mixed with water, which is then heated to boiling point. The boiling is continued, and the impurities which form as a scum on the surface of the boiling fluid are gradually removed. The heating is continued till a thick suspension is formed. This is then strained through a piece of cloth and charred leaves of Acacia arabica (babul) are gradually mixed with it till it assumes the consistency of a thick, stiff paste. This mass is then rolled into small balls called madak golis, which are available for smoking purposes. As a rule, two and a half ounces of madak are prepared from one ounce of opium. Sometimes, instead of babul leaves, leaves of Phylanthus emblica (amla), Acacia leucophloea Wild (safed babul) and Piper betle Linn. (pan) are used. In former days, burnt gold or silver threads (kalabatoo) were sometimes added to the mass, as it was supposed that these imparted to the mixture aphrodisiac and tonic properties.

Chandu, chandul, or clarified opium is a stronger preparation, and was only used in India by persons who were heavy smokers. Chandu is prepared by boiling a strained solution of opium in water until it becomes thick in consistency. As the concentration proceeds, crusts form on the surface of the simmering mass. These are removed as they form, until finally a thick mass of the consistency and appearance of coal tar is obtained. This is the "smokable extract'', and is the chandu or chandul of opium smokers. The chandu commonly smoked is often adulterated by addition of dross scraped from chandu pipes, which has a high morphine content.

A third preparation - rarely used - was opium dross, which is the residue left in the pipe when either chandu or madak is smoked.

Unlike opium eaters, who generally seek solitude in order to indulge in their habit, opium smokers prefer to smoke in the company of other addicts. Furthermore, the requisite paraphernalia is often beyond the reach of the average smoker; an additional difficulty is the absence of a suitable place where the addicts can retire for a smoke. As a result, smoking dens providing all facilities have existed probably ever since the habit of smoking originated.

II

The opium policy of the Government of India covered all aspects of opium production, distribution and consumption, and was necessarily a whole. A knowledge of that policy is essential to the understanding of the developments relating to opium smoking in particular. Some information regarding the general administrative structure for the implementation of its opium policy is also helpful.

Prior to the partitioning of the country and the transfer of authority in 1947, the administration of India consisted of two parts: British India, under the direct control of the Government of India (on behalf of the British Crown and Parliament); and the more or less autonomous Indian states, numbering a few hundred, many of them having direct treaty relations with the British Crown. British India comprised an area of approximately a million square miles, with nearly three quarters of the population; and the Indian states were spread out over an area of about 675,000 square miles, with the remaining quarter of the population. From the very early days of the establishment of British authority in India, the Government of India gradually extended its control over the production, transport and sale of opium. In 1813, there was passed the first Bengal regulation regarding consumption in India, the Government enunciating its policy of restricting the habit of opium eating by obtaining the maximum revenue from the minimum consumption, and declaring that it was desirous of countenancing only to the narrowest extent possible a habit which it found itself unable to eradicate. The attitude of the Government of India towards the general question of opium consumption, which persisted till 1947, was well expressed by the following passage in a despatch addressed to the Secretary of State by Lord Hardinge's Government in 1911: "The prohibition of opium eating in India we regard as impossible, and any attempt at it is fraught with the most serious consequences to the people and the Government. We take our stand unhesitatingly on the conclusion of the Royal Commission which reported in 1895, viz., that the opium habit as a vice scarcely exists in India, that opium is extensively used for medical and quasi-medical purposes, in some cases with benefit, and for the most part without injurious consequences; that the non-medical uses are so interwoven with the medical uses that it would not be practicable to draw a distinction between them in the distribution and sale of the drug; and that it is not necessary that the growth of the poppy and the manufacture and sale of opium in British India should be prohibited except for medical purposes. Whatever may be the case in other countries, centuries of inherited experience have taught the people of India discretion in the use of the drug, and its misuse is a negligible feature in Indian life. Even if it were possible to suppress the cultivation of opium in India, geographical and political limitations would place it beyond our power to prevent illicit import and consumption on a serious scale."

Since the Government recognized that opium consumption in India could not be entirely suppressed, it pursued a declared policy of restricting the habit within the narrowest possible limits. The system of administration that was built up was primarily based upon the principle of restricting the consumption to legitimate needs, as far as possible by direct regulation and taxation. The abuse of opium was prevented by limiting the amount of opium which an individual may possess at any one time and by a continuous process of raising the price at which opium was being sold to the consumer, only stopping short of the point at which the object in view would be defeated by the attraction of smuggling.

The main legislation of the Government of India relating to British India was the following acts, with amendments thereto, and regulations made thereunder : the Opium Act, 1857 (XIII of 1857); the Opium Act, 1878 (I of 1878); the Sea Customs Act, 1878; and the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1930 (11 of 1930). The net effect of this legislation was the complete legal control acquired by the Government of India over the production, transport and sale of opium. So far as British India was concerned, the government concentrated cultivation within restricted areas, and included all the provinces into which British India was divided for administrative purposes, in the same general system in respect of transport and sale. A comprehensive and detailed system of control was set up, particularly relating to the cultivation of the opium poppy and the manufacture, possession, transport, import, export and sale of opium. An aspect of the general administration of British India was the gradual extension of the legislative functions and the executive authority of the provincial governments particularly by means of the constitutional changes of 1911, 1919 and 1935; as a consequence, the making of rules and regulations in implementation of central policies or legislation became primarily the function of the provincial governments within their jurisdictions. Under the Opium Act, 1878 (I of 1878), sets of rules having the force of law were framed by the executive government for each province, taking into account its particular circumstances. These rules were constantly revised in the direction of greater stringency.

The transit of opium between British provinces and native states and vice versa, and between one British province and another was permitted, generally speaking, only on behalf of the British Government or of some native state which had obtained permission to get a specific quantity for its internal consumption. And the transit of opium within a province and power to deal in it or possess it were made subject to strict licence and control.

With regard to the Indian states, the problem of production and internal consumption was not under the direct control of the Government of India, and the matter could only be dealt with by negotiation. The principal states which produced opium (known in this connexion as the Malwa States) were the states of the central India and the Rajputana agencies, and Baroda. Over the production of this opium, the Government of India had little direct control; but the matter was dealt with by fiscal and other checks when the opium passed into British India, as it had to when destined for consumption in British India, or for export to foreign countries. These states - in addition to producing opium for their own internal consumption - exported large quantities to China until the Government of India prohibited export to that country in 1913.

It may also be stated that the Government of India took measures to induce the states outside the Malwa group to abstain from the cultivation of the poppy, and urged all the states to model their excise systems upon that existing in British India. In 1919, the Government took steps to review the whole position as regards the narcotic laws and regulations in British India and the Indian States, and in 1921 drafts of a law, regulations and rules - based on the Opium Act of 1878 -in force in British India were sent to the political officers for circulation to the states, who were requested to examine their existing laws and rules in the light of the requirements of The Hague Convention of 1912. Some states preferred to adopt unchanged the opium laws and rules in force in the neighbouring British Indian provinces. The remainder, which formed the great majority, adopted the drafts supplied by the Government of India as the basis for their own legislation. By the year 1925, all the states in central India, and the majority of those in Rajputana, had introduced systems of excise administration which were analogous to those in force in British India, and secured a large measure of control over opium production, distribution and retail sale.

III

With this general background, we may now proceed to a detailed consideration of the policy of the Government in relation to opium smoking and the measures taken to suppress this vice. It should be borne in mind at the outset that opium smoking-the common form of consumption in other parts of the East - has always been on a different footing in India, and it never assumed the grave proportions that it did elsewhere. Opium smoking is usually indulged in almost entirely for its euphoric or pleasure-giving effects and is a social vice. Whereas the moderate eating of opium in India was thought to be natural and legitimate, opium smoking was regarded as a vice, a practice foreign to the country, and a form of social indulgence among the disreputable classes. The feeling of the People of India was, and always had been, very strongly against this practice, and it has been the object of social condemnation and official repression. The official attitude to opium smoking essentially reflected the traditional attitude of the people of India. The Royal Opium Commission of 1893 described the habit as "comparatively rare and novel" in India, and the representatives of the Government of India at international conferences repeatedly stated that there was relatively no opium smoking problem in India outside of Burma.

There is no difficulty in prohibiting opium smoking in a country where the consumption of opium in any form is prohibited except for medical or scientific purpose, but the fact that opium eating was allowed in India rendered it very difficult to prohibit outright the actual act of smoking. Any attempt to enforce such a prohibition would obviously have involved domiciliary visits and interference with the private lives of the people. A further complication was the impossibility of enforcing prohibition in the Indian states. Short of this, however, the Government took all measures to encircle this practice with restrictions that almost amounted to its prohibition. Since 1891, rigorous measures, which received widespread support from public opinion, were taken against opium smoking. Since 1891, opium smoking on licensed premises was prohibited, and the sale of prepared opium was absolutely prohibited throughout the whole of British India. By provincial rules made under the Opium Act of 1878, the manufacture of smoking preparations was forbidden except by an individual for his own use from opium lawfully in his possession, and only to the extent of one tola (3/8 oz) at a time. Under Indian conditions, a tola represents little more than one or two days' average dose for a smoker of low grade chandu, and is a good deal short of the daily dose required by an habitual and confirmed smoker. In consultation with the provincial governments, it was also decided that this maximum limit of private possession of opium smoking preparations should be reduced to a quantity to be determined for each province by its own government, with regard to local circumstances. Since 1911, the issue price at which opium was being sold to the consumer was raised to a considerable extent in every province, and the maximum limit of private possession of both raw and prepared opium was reduced.

By 1920-21, the limit of private possession of opium smoking preparations in the case of individuals was reduced in the British provinces to I tola (in the case of Bombay, it was I tola). Similarly, the maximum amount of opium for smoking allowed to an assembly of persons was reduced. It may be pointed out that as of 1911 such an assemblage was not illegal so long as the total quantity of opium used did not exceed the aggregate of one tola apiece, which each of the participants was entitled to possess, subject in some provinces to a maximum of five tolas, even though the collective number of smokers was more than five. By 1920-21, the maximum amount of opium for smoking allowed to an assembly of persons, however large, was one tola in the majority of the British provinces (in Bombay, it was 1/2 tola; in Bengal, it was two tolas; in Bihar and Orissa, it was 2 1/2 tolas).

For weaning the opium addicts from their habit, the All-India Narcotics Conference, which was held in 1956, made the following recommendation

  • The medical permits will be issued only by an appointed medical authority with a view to (a) progressively weaning the addicts, and for (b) relieving pain in case of disease.

  • The medical permit must not prescribe a quota of more than 5 tolas a month. This quantity should be automatically reduced by eighths every quarter, subject to the minimum of 1/8 tola every three months.

By the time of The Hague Opium Conference of 1912, the Government of India had moved a step forward towards complete prohibition of opium smoking. In consultation with the provincial governments, it examined the question whether direct and unqualified prohibition of opium smoking was possible, and whether measures could be devised in this direction which offered a real prospect of success. It arrived at the general conclusion that the time was ripe for suppressing opium smoking, and suggested that an assembly of three or more persons for the purpose of smoking opium - even if that assembly consists of members of die same family - be rendered illegal. This proposal, in effect, cut at the heart of what is essentially a social practice. The necessary legislation was to be enacted by the provincial governments and, as we shall see later, was spread out over a number of years. These measures were regarded as being in accordance with the provisions of The Hague Convention of 1912, which requires, in Chapter 11 (art. 6), that measures should be taken for the gradual and effective suppression of the manufacture of, internal trade in, and use of prepared opium, with due regard to the circumstances of each country concerned. The steps taken were justified in the despatch of Lord Hardinge's government in 1911 as follows : "We have arrived at these conclusions, after full deliberation, in preference to an attempt at the categorical prohibition of the smoking of opium by individuals. To declare the act in itself illegal would, we are convinced, have been impracticable, impolitic and even dangerous. It would have been necessary for us, in the first instance, to ascertain and register all persons habituated to smoking, as China has endeavoured to do. This, we believe, would present serious difficulty unless we were to register opium eaters as well - an impossibility under present conditions in India. But there are more imperative objections to the declaring of private opium smoking an offence. If made effective, it would only lead to the increased use of other, and probably more deleterious, drugs. But to make it effective would mean domiciliary visits and the closest supervision over persons suspected of the practice. It would open the door to blackmail, espionage and an amount of interference with the inner domestic life of the people which would be absolutely intolerable. As it is, the importance of dissociating the police from the fresh odium of opium detective work has constrained us to decide that the working of the new restrictive legislation shall be entrusted to excise officials rather than to the police. Nor do we believe that absolute prohibition would carry us appreciably further than the measures which we have decided to adopt. Opium smoking is a social habit and we cut at the root of it by prohibiting assemblages for the purpose of smoking. Moreover, we make prevention more effective, from the point of view of legal proof, than if we attempted to deal with the private and secret practices of individuals. It is easy to prove the fact of a certain number of individuals being found together; and if, as is proposed, the presence of opium smoking pipes or other apparatus with or without opium smoking preparations will be held to raise the presumption that the assembly intended to smoke opium, there will be no difficulty in enforcing the law. Solitary smokers find the private manufacture of smoking preparations so wasteful, tedious, and expensive, and, with the reduced limit of possession, they will have to resort to it so often that none but the most hardened individuals, who are in any case past hope, will consider it worth while to continue the habit."

IV

A further advance was made when the Government of India requested the provincial governments - whose primary responsibility the question of opium consumption had become as a result of the constitutional changes of 1919 - to consider the practicability of entirely prohibiting opium smoking. In 1924, the Government of India took up with the provincial governments an examination of internal opium policy concerning, inter alia, whether any special measures were necessary and practicable to reduce consumption of opium in areas where it was still relatively high. The Government of India resolution of June 1926 concluded that there was no need for any general enquiry; provincial governments were, however, subsequently asked to institute local enquiries into areas of excessively high consumption. In pursuance of this recommendation, several of the provincial governments appointed committees to make local enquiries in areas where the average consumption of opium was relatively high. By 1928 and 1929, many of the reports of these committees had been received, and various recommendations were made, such as the compulsory registration of addicts, the further raising of prices, stricter regulations regarding retail sales, sale on medical certificate only, reduction in the limits of retail sale and private possession.

This general activity of the Government of India was matched by specific action of the provincial governments in regard to opium smoking. Commencing with the Punjab Opium Smoking Act (VI of 1923), which came into force on 1 April 1924, a series of provincial legislations and regulations were enacted with a view to prohibiting opium smoking, registration of smokers, etc.

The Punjab Opium Smoking Act prohibited opium smoking in assemblies in all the municipalities and cantonments of Punjab. The members of opium smoking assemblies as well as the owners and managers of places used for opium smoking assemblies were made liable to punishment. The provisions of this act were extended in 1924 to Delhi and the North-West Frontier Province, and in 1926 to Baluchistan. In 1924, the United Provinces Opium Smoking Act rendered unlawful an assembly of two or more persons for the purpose of smoking opium. In the province of Assam, special measures were taken. Between 1921 and 1924, both the price at which opium was being issued and the maximum prices at which the licensed vendor could retail it, were progressively and steeply raised; at the same time every shop was rationed, and the ration was progressively reduced. A system of registration was also introduced, and in 1925 the provincial government extended the system of registering and rationing individual consumers to the whole province. The Assam Opium Smoking Act prohibiting and penalizing smoking of opium came into effect in November 1927; in 1934, the act was amended to make the possession of and dealing in prepared opium an offence. An act prohibiting opium smoking in Bihar and Orissa, except by registered smokers, came into effect in January 1929. In the Central Provinces and Berar, the Opium Smoking Act (IV of 1929) came into force, prohibiting opium smoking in an assembly of two or more persons. Opium smoking was totally prohibited from 1934. The Bengal Opium Smoking Act, 1932 (X of 1932) prohibiting opium smoking by persons other than those registered for the purpose came into effect in June 1933. In the United Provinces, by the Opium Smoking Act (III of 1934), smoking of opium and possession of prepared opium was prohibited except by registered addicts. In Bombay, the Bombay Opium Smoking Act (XX of 1936) prohibited the smoking of opium in assembly and also the possession of opium by any other than those registered for the purpose. In Madras, regulations issued in 1934 under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1930 (II of 1930) prohibited the manufacture and possession of prepared opium.

With regard to the Indian states, it may be said generally that similar action relating to prepared opium and opium smoking was being taken. Already by 1928 it was reported that opium smoking did not constitute a live problem in any of the Indian states, and the practice was very much discountenanced by the public. The import, export and sale of prepared opium were absolutely prohibited in almost all the states. Except in the following states, which had absolutely prohibited the smoking of opium in their territories, the manufacture and possession by individuals for their personal use of a quantity of prepared opium not exceeding the prescribed limit, which generally varied between one-sixth and one tola, were permitted: Hyderabad, Baroda, Gwalior, Indore, Kapurthala, Nabha, Alwar, Kotah, Tonk, Jodhpur, Dewas Senior Branch, Panth Piploda, Nimkhera, Narsingharh, Rajgarh, Basoda, Mohammadgarh, Nagod, Lugasi, Panna, Charkhari, Jigni, Alipur, Garrauli, Karrauli, Jashpur, Bastar, Cambay, Aundh, Pheltan, Rajpipla, Miraj Senior, Junegarh, Navanagar, Bhavanagar, Jaffrabad, Dhrol, Sayla, Palanpur and Baramba.

The smoking of opium in company by two or more persons was a penal offence in the following States: Mysore, Patiala, Bhawalpur, Dholpur, Bhogal, Ratnaval, Kurwai, Sohawal, Samthar, Chhatarpur, Sarila, Rajgarh, Athmallik, Banera, Bonai, Narsingarh, Nayagarh, Rairakhol, Pal Lahrai, Kawardha, Kanker, Korea and Sarengarh.

The official position by 1945 as regards opium smoking in both British India and the Indian States had advanced considerably towards total prohibition, as may be seen from the above. Moreover, the provincial governments were not having much difficulty in implementing the respective opium smoking acts or regulations, and in those provinces where registration of consumers was carried out, a relatively small number of smokers was reported. In November 1946, the Government of India resolution regarding the policy on opium smoking was made public. It reads as follows:

"(1) The Government of India have for some time past had under very careful consideration the question of prohibiting the smoking of opium in British India. The habit of opium smoking is not, in fact, widely practised in this country, but is indeed looked upon as a vice, and is everywhere reprobated by public opinion. In the provinces of Assam and the Central Provinces and Berar, the practice is absolutely prohibited, while in most of the other provinces varying degrees of restriction have been imposed.

"(2) The view hitherto held by the Government of India on this question was that so long as the possession of opium, in however limited quantities, is permitted for oral consumption, the private utilization of such opium by individuals for smoking cannot be entirely prevented, and that the total prohibition of opium smoking would therefore be impracticable. In fulfilment, however, of their international obligations, and in their earnest desire to co-operate in weaning mankind from a pernicious habit, the Government of India now feel that the prohibition of opium smoking is desirable, despite the practical difficulties in the way of its full enforcement. They have accordingly, in consultation with the provincial governments, decided to prohibit altogether the smoking of opium in British India, exception being made only in favour of existing addicts so long as they survive, and subject to their pro- ducing medical certificates in terms to be prescribed. The absolute prohibition prevailing in Assam and the Central Provinces and Berar will not be affected by this decision; nor will there be any objection to the other provinces adopting, should they so desire, a more radical policy than the one now announced.

"(3) The Government of India and the provincial governments concerned will, as soon as practicable, take the necessary steps to implement this decision."

Responsibility for giving practical effect to this decision had to be delegated to the provincial and state governments, in accordance with the constitutional position. Subsequent upon the partitioning of the country into India and Pakistan, and the transfer of authority to the Government of India in 1947, a series of constitutional and administrative changes took place. In essence, these changes led to greater cohesion between the old British Indian provinces and the Indian States, and the new union was recognized in the constitution of the Republic which was promulgated in January 1950. Article 47 of the Constitution lays down as a directive principle of state policy that the state government and parliament of India, and the government and legislature of each of the states and of local or other authorities within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption - except for medical purposes - of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.

Under paragraph 3 of article 19 of the Opium Protocol of 1953, the Government of India have made a declaration to the effect that the smoking of opium will not be permitted except, for their lifetime, by addicts not under twenty-one years of age, registered by the appropriate authorities for that purpose on or before 30 September 1953. In pursuance of this declaration, the Government of India issued instructions to all the state governments, requesting them to take immediate steps, both legislative and administrative, whichever might be necessary, to announce that the registration of opium smokers, for whatever reasons, would be stopped completely after 30 September 1953, and that only those who registered themselves on medical grounds by 30 September 1953 would be permitted to smoke so long as they survive, subject to their fulfilling certain conditions.

The position reached by each state by 31 December 1949 is summarized below:

Assam: The smoking of opium and possession of prepared opium are totally prohibited under the Assam Opium Smoking Act, 1927.

Andhra: No addict registered himself as a smoker by 30 December 1953.

Bihar: The Bihar and Orissa Opium Smoking Act (II of 1928) has been in force for over twenty years. As the first step, smoking of opium and the manufacture or possession of prepared opium were prohibited, except by persons who applied for, and were granted, registration as addicts. No fresh registration of addicts has been permitted since 31 December 1931. The provisions of this act have been extended to the territories of all the former Indian states that are now included in the territory of the Bihar Province. No representations for special concessions have been received from the inhabitants of these former Indian states, and it can be assumed that they include very few persons addicted to the smoking of opium.

Bombay: The first step to control opium smoking was taken in 1936 with the enactment of the Bombay Opium Smoking Act (XX of 1936), which, by prohibiting smoking of opium in assembly enabled opium smoking dens to be suppressed. The final action to give effect to the policy of total abolition was taken under the Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949. Possession of opium (except opium to be legally used for medical or scientific purposes) by any person other than a permit holder is prohibited. Permits to possess opium in any form for personal consumption are issued only to persons certified by a medical board constituted by Government, as requiring opium for some specific medical reason. Legal consumption of opium, whether orally or by smoking, is thus restricted to addicts who are passed by the medical board and granted permits by the collector. Such permit holders are required to obtain the quotas allowed to them under their permits from a government depot. The maximum quantity which a permit holder is allowed to purchase and possess at a time is half a tola, and during the period of a calendar month, is specified in the permit by the collector (subject to a maximum of 7? tolas), and such monthly quota is further subjected to a progressive quarterly cut at the rate of one-eighth of the quota.

Madhya Pradesh: Control was first introduced in 1929 by the promulgation of the Central Provinces and Berar Opium Smoking Act (IV of 1929) and the issue of the Central Provinces Opium Smoking Rules, 1929. Possession of prepared opium and the smoking of opium have been totally prohibited since 1934. When the territory of the former Indian State of Bastar was merged into the Central Provinces and Berar in 1948, special provision had to be made, because smoking of opium by registered addicts was permitted under the old state laws.

Madras: Control was first introduced in 1934 by the issue of a rule under Section 4 (2) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1930 (II of 1930) to regulate the manufacture and possession of prepared opium (Government of Madras notification No. 164 Rev., dated 29 May 1934). In 1955, the Government of Madras framed another rule known as "Madras Opium Smoking Rules, 1955 ". According to this rule, (i) no person shall manufacture or possess prepared opium except under and in accordance with the terms and conditions of a licence granted by a Tehsildar and (ii) no licence shall be granted to any person unless he had registered himself in a taluk office as an opium smoker, on medical grounds, on or before 30 September 1953, and was not less than twenty-one, years of age on that date.

Orissa: In the territories formerly included in the Province of Bihar and Orissa, control over opium smoking has been in force since 1928 under the Bihar and Orissa Opium Smoking Act (II of 1928.) In 1947, this act was replaced by the Orissa Opium Smoking Act (XVI of 1947). The smoking of opium and the possession of prepared opium are totally prohibited.

Punjab: Control is imposed under the East Punjab Opium Smoking Act (XXV of 1948), which has replaced the Punjab Opium Smoking Act (VI of 1923). Possession of prepared opium and smoking of opium by any person other than an addict who has applied for, and been granted, registration under section 5 of the act, are prohibited. Registration of addicts is now complete, and the registers have been closed since 12 April 1949.

Uttar Pradesh: Control was first imposed in 1925 under the United Provinces Opium Smoking Act, 1925. This Act was superseded by the Opium Smoking Act (III of 1934). The smoking of opium and possession of prepared opium except by registered addicts, are prohibited. Since 31 December 1936, registration of new addicts has been forbidden, except with the previous sanction of the Excise Commissioner. In March 1947, orders were issued to all district officers that no fresh application for registration should be entertained on any ground.

West Bengal: Under the Bengal Opium Smoking Act, 1932, smoking of opium and possession of prepared opium, except by registered addicts, are prohibited. No fresh registration of addicts has been permitted since 1947.

Hyderabad: (Merged with Andhra and Mysore with effect from 1 November 1956). Control over opium smoking was introduced with effect from 8 August 1949, under the Hyderabad Opium Smoking Rules 1949, made in exercise of powers under the Opium and Other Intoxicating Drugs Act of 1333 F (1924 A.D.). The possession of prepared opium and the smoking of opium by any person were subsequently prohibited under Government of Hyderabad Notification No. (44)/B.1/14/1952, dated 11 November 1952.

Jammu and Kashmir: Under Act No. XXXVII of S.2011, opium smoking is prohibited in the state, except by registered smokers. No person has, however, registered himself as a smoker.

Madhya Bharat (merged with Madhya Pradesh with effect from November 1956). Under section 5 of the Madhya Bharat Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs Act, which came into effect on 1 June 1949, smoking of opium and possession of prepared opium are totally prohibited.

Mysore: In certain areas, possession of opium in any form is prohibited. In other areas, where this total prohibition is not in force, possession of prepared opium is prohibited, except under, and in accordance with, the terms and conditions of a licence. The maximum quantity that may be legally possessed at any one time is ? tola (.0057 kg.). The issue of licences is restricted to persons who have applied for registration as an addict, producing in support of their application a medical certificate confirming that they were addicts to opium smoking before 1 August 1949. After 30 September 1953, no fresh registration was undertaken.

Patiala and East Punjab States Union (merged with Punjab with effect from 1 November 1956). Action to bring opium smoking under control was initiated in 1931 by the introduction of the Patiala Opium Smoking Act (I of 1988-BK) in the former Indian State of Patiala. This act was subsequently superseded by the Patiala and East Punjab States Union Opium Smoking Act, 1953. According to this act, smoking of opium other than by a registered smoker is prohibited.

Rajasthan: Opium smoking is prohibited in the state under the Rajasthan Opium Smoking Prohibition Act, 1950.

Saurashtra (merged with Bombay with effect from 1 November 1956). The Bombay Opium Prohibition Act (XXV of 1949) has been made applicable in Saurashtra. Special legislation to control opium smoking is, therefore, not necessary. Possession of opium by any person other than a permit holder is prohibited. By the end of 1949, no permits to possess prepared opium had been applied for.

Travancore-Cochin (known as Kerala from 1 November 1956). Control over opium smoking has been introduced with effect from 19 March 1949 by the enactment of the Travancore Opium Smoking Act. Smoking of opium by any person other than a registered addict is prohibited. Registration as an addict is restricted to persons not below the age of twenty-five, whose application is supported by a medical recommendation. Provision has been made in the act empowering the Government to stop all fresh registration by notification. Opium smoking is not prevalent, and no application for registration had been received by 30 September 1953.

Ajmer (merged with Rajasthan with effect from 1 November 1956). The United Provinces Opium Smoking Act (III of 1934) was extended, subject to certain modifications, to the territory of Ajmer-Merwara by Government of India Notification No. 3, dated 14 December 1948, issued under section 2 of the Ajmer-Merwara (Extension of Laws) Act (III of 1947). In exercise of the powers conferred by section 10 (1) of this act, the Chief Commissioner has promulgated the Ajmer Opium Smoking Rules 1949, which have been in force since 1 August 1949. Smoking of opium and possession of prepared opium are prohibited, except by registered addicts. Registration is restricted to persons over twenty-five years of age who applied for registration before 1 December 1949.

Bhopal (merged with Madhya Pradesh with effect from 1 November 1956). Control over opium smoking has been enforced since 1922 under the Bhopal State Opium and Other Intoxicating Drugs Law. In accordance with Notification No. 2, dated 23 June 1953, issued by the Excise Department Bhopal, smoking of opium is permitted only by those smokers who registered themselves as addicts by 31 August 1953.

Bilaspur: (This state did not exist in 1955, owing to its merger with Himachal Pradesh.)

Coorg (merged with Mysore with effect from 1 November 1956). According to the Chief Commissioner of Coorg, Notification No. 8590-92/Excise 4/53, dated 26 August 1953, as amended by his notification No. B 4240/D.D. 2/53, dated 25 September 1954, opium smoking, other than by an addict who registered himself as a smoker by 30 September 1953, is prohibited in the state. No smoker has, however, been registered.

Delhi: Control is being imposed under the Delhi Opium Smoking Rules, 1949, which came into effect on 7 September 1949. Smoking of opium and possession of prepared opium by any person other than a registered addict are prohibited. Fresh registration of addicts has been stopped with effect from 1 January 1950.

Himachal Pradesh: Control over opium smoking has been imposed under the Punjab Opium Smoking Act No. XXV of 1948, which has been made applicable to this state with effect from 25 December 1948. Possession of prepared opium and smoking of opium by any person other than a registered addict are prohibited. No addict has registered himself as a smoker.

Manipur: The Assam Opium Act (III of 1927) has been extended to the territory of Manipur with effect from 22 October 1948. The smoking of opium and possession of prepared opium are totally prohibited.

Tripura: Opium smoking has been prohibited by a proclamation issued by His Highness the Maharaja Manikya Bahadur, Ruler of Tripura, in exercise of powers inherent in His Highness as well as under section 44 a of the Tripura Government Act of 1351 T.E. Provision is made for registering addicts but no application for registration has been received.

Vindhya Pradesh (merged with Madhya Pradesh from 1 November 1956): The Uttar Pradesh Opium Smoking Act, 1934 Act (III of 1934), has been extended to Vindhya Pradesh vide Government of India, Ministry of State, Notification No. 11-S, dated 12 January 1952. According to this act, opium smoking in the state is permitted by the addicts who registered themselves as smokers by 31 March 1953.

Kutch (merged with Bombay with effect from 1 November 1956): As required under rule 4 of the Kutch Opium Smoking Rules, 1953, framed under section 10 of the United Provinces Opium Smoking Act, 1934, as extended to Kutch, no addict registered his name for opium smoking in the state.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands: In Andaman and Nicobar Islands, opium smoking is regulated under the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Opium Smoking (Prohibition) Regulation, 1955. According to this regulation, opium smoking is permitted by addicts who registered themselves as smokers by 30 September 1953.

The position in regard to opium smoking in the twenty-eight states in India, as on 31 December 1954, was as follows:

  1. In seven states - viz., Assam, Orissa, Madhya Bharat, Rajasthan, Hyderabad, Saurashtra and Manipur - the smoking of opium was totally prohibited.

  2. In nine states - viz. Andhra, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Pepsu, Travancore-Cochin, Coorg, Himachal Pradesh, Kutch and Tripura - no person had registered himself as an opium smoker by 30 September 1953.

  3. In twelve states - viz., Bihar, Bombay, Madhya Pradesh (Bastar district), Madras, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Mysore, Ajmer, Bhopal, Delhi, Vindhya Pradesh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands - opium smoking was permitted only in respect of those smokers who registered themselves as addicts by 30 September 1953. The total number of registered opium smokers in these states on 31 December 1954 was 2,519.

On 31 December 1955, the position in all the states remained the same, with the exception that the total number of the registered opium smokers was reduced to 2,392, as detailed below:

   

Number of registered opium smokers on:

 

State

31 Dec. 1954

31 Dec. 1955

1.
Bihar
663 597
2.
Bombay
61 29
3.
Madhya Pradesh (Bastar district)
741 741
4.
Madras
14 14
5.
Uttar Pradesh
104 104
6.
West Bengal
26 26
7.
Mysore
100 100
8.
Ajmer
29 29
9.
Bhopal
421 421
10.
Delhi
41 12
11.
Vindhya Pradesh
307 307
12
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
12 12
 
TOTAL
2,519 2,392

Owing to the reorganization of the states with effect from 1 November 1956, the total number of states in India has been reduced from 28 to 20. As a result, certain states have been merged either wholly or partly with other states. The total number of the registered opium smokers in the various reorganized states on 31 December 1956 was 2,271, as detailed below:

 

State

Number of registered opium smokers on 31 Dec. 1956

1.
Bihar
509
2.
Bombay
3
3.
Madhya Pradesh
1,469*
4.
Madras
14
5.
Uttar Pradesh
104
6.
West Bengal
26
7.
Mysore
100
8.
Rajasthan
22**
9.
Delhi
12
10.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
12
 
TOTAL
2,271

This figure is made up of 741 in respect of former Madhya Pradesh (Bastar District), 421 and 307 in respect of former Bhopal and Vindhya Pradesh States respectively, which now form part of the integrated State of Madhya Pradesh.

The figure represents the number of opium smokers in the former Ajmer State, which now forms part of integrated Rajasthan State.

Supplies of opium to the registered opium smoking addicts are made in extremely limited quantities. Excise opium is sold by licensed dealers from out of the quota supplied to them for issue for quasi-medical uses, and is converted by the registered addicts themselves into prepared opium. In its resolution No. I, the All-India Narcotics Conference, 1956, has recommended that retail opium shops should be closed not later than 1 April 1959. After that date, issues of opium to opium smokers will be made from the government depots. The conference has also made the following recommendations for the treatment of the narcotics addicts.

  1. Each state should start special institutions for the treatment of addicts.

  2. A department for this purpose should be opened in each medical teaching institution under a senior physician. This will, of course, need additional staff.

  3. Facilities for such treatment should be provided in every district by starting as many treatment centres as required.

  4. If institutional treatment is offered and refused, there will be a good ground for refusing a permit unless the medical authority is satisfied that the patient is receiving proper treatment outside the institution, which will help him ultimately to wean himself from the opium habit.

  5. The Indian Council of Medical Research should be requested to institute an inquiry into the various methods of treatment of addicts of narcotics, assess the results of such treatment as practised, and advise a standard treatment for Indian patients.

  6. Literature on de-addiction from western countries may be supplied to the medical departments of various states by the Narcotics Commissioner.