Punjab MP invites legal action for cultivating poppy

Punjab MP invites legal action for cultivating poppy

Dr Dharamvir Gandhi

Dr Dharamvir Gandhi, an AAP MP from Punjab, is likely to face legal action for cultivating poppy, a crude opium drug, in a field in Punjab. 

Cultivating poppy is an offence punishable under relevant sections of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act) and invites a jail sentence if convicted for the offence.

A practising cardiologist, the MP from Patiala has remained vocal for his views that seek to legalise opium as an alternative to dangerous drugs, including heroin.

The Ludhiana police have registered a DDR against the MP and others. The police said they have sought legal opinion in the case to proceed further against Dr Gandhi. 

The MP, who remains suspended by the AAP, says the government is free to initiate any action against him. He said that he had planted poppy seeds in the fields as a symbolic protest to drive home his point on legalising cultivation, sale and consumption of poppy.

A few other MPs across party lines, too, have echoed views somewhat similar to those maintained by Dr Gandhi.

Akali Dal MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa has favoured legalising the sale and consumption of opium to treat drug addicts, and for medicinal use.

Punjab Cabinet minister in Capt Amarinder Singh’s government, Navjot Singh Sidhu, too has come in support of Dr Gandhi.

A few days ago, Sidhu had said that he was thankful to Dr Gandhi for raising this issue. "Even my uncle used to have opium for medicinal use," he had said.

The police, while initiating the probe, are also seeking the statement of the farmer in whose fields the poppy seeds were being cultivated.

In July, Dr Gandhi had also written to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh raising this demand.