Chemicals frequently used in the manufacture of illicit narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances are referred to as precursors. These chemicals have a large number of legitimate uses and a small fraction of the total production is sufficient to meet the requirements of the illicit drug industry.The UN Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988 (1988 Convention for short) identifies the following 23 precursors as the chemicals which need to be controlled.


Table I Table II
Acetic Anhydride Acetone
Potassium permanganate Anthranilic acid
N -acetylanthranilic acid Ethyl ether
Ephedrine Hydrochloric acid
Ergometrine Methyl ethyl ketone
Ergotamine Piperidine
Isosafrole Sulphuric acid
Lysergic acid Toluene
Phenylacetic acid  

In India , precursors are controlled under three different Acts and by three different agencies as follows:Controls under the NDPS (Regulation of Controlled Substances) Order, 1993: This order issued under Section 9A of the NDPS Act,1985 requires manufacturers, distributors, sellers, importers, exporters and consumers of specified controlled substances to maintain records and file quarterly returns with the Narcotics Control Bureau.Precursors covered : Acetic anhydride, N-acetyl anthranilic acid, Ephedrine and Pseudoephedrine and Anthranilic acidControls imposed under the EXIM policy: The export-import policy framed under the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992 imposes restrictions on the import and export of goods. Export of seven precursors is subject to a “No Objection Certificate” and import of three precursors is restricted.Export of Acetic anhydride, Ephedrine, Pseudoephedrine, Methyl ethyl ketone, 1-Phenyl-2-Propanone, 3,4 methylenedioxyphenyl-2-propanone and Potassium permanganate require a “No Objection Certificate” from the Narcotics Commissioner. The import of acetic anhydride, ergometrine, ergotamine and piperonal also require a “No Objection Certificate” from the Narcotics Commissioner.Controls under Section 11 of the Customs Act 1962 : The goods specified under this section are subject to intensive checks in the specified areas by the Customs officers. Acetic anhydride has been notified as a specified substance under this section within an area of 100 km. along the Indo – Myanmar border and 50 km. along the Indo-Pak border by the Government of India. Broadly, the special measures under this section require all persons who own, possess or transport acetic anhydride to maintain records and notify the Customs officers of the details of quantities held and transported.The Central Government, in exercise of powers conferred by Section 9 (A) of NDPS Act 1985, issued an order called The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Regulation of Controlled Substances Order 1993) which came into e15 th April 93 . This order stipulates various procedures with regards to specified substances declared to be controlled.

These are:

  • Every person who manufactures or distributes or sells or imports or exports or consume any controlled substance shall maintain a daily account of activities in form I or II and this record of his activity shall be preserved for a period of two years.

  • Person dealing with controlled substance shall report to Director General, Narcotics Control Bureau, immediately regarding any loss or disappearance of any controlled substance under his control.

  • Any consignment of controlled substance shall be moved from one place to another only when it is accompanied by a consignment note in the prescribed format (Form-3) and the consignor shall make necessary entries on the triplicate copy of the consignment with reference to the receipt of controlled substance. A quarterly return or such movements shall be sent by registered post in Form –IV or V to the concerned Dy. Director, NCB.

  • Any consignment of an imported controlled substance shall be accompanied by a bill of entry from the port of entry to the warehouse or establishment of importer. This consignment note / bill of entry shall be preserved for a period of two years by the consignor or consignee by importer or purchaser.

  • No transporter shall carry a consignment of controlled substance without a consignment note or bill of entry. He should produce the same when required by any official empowered in this regard.

  • Every sale of 100 kg or more shall be made by a seller only after establishing the identity of the buyer.

  • Upon the declaration made for the purpose for which controlled substance is being purchased. Every container/vessel containing a controlled substance in a consignment for export / import shall be labeled prominently, giving the details of name and quantity of controlled substance with the name and address of exporter and importer and consignee.

  • The documents relating to import / export of any controlled substance shall be preserved for a period of two years.

  • School, colleges, universities, government or autonomous institutions, registered scientific societies and hospitals using any controlled substance for educational, scientific and analytical purposes are exempted from maintaining records as prescribed under clause 3 and sending returns as prescribed under this clause. They shall however comply with other provision of this Order.

Section 25 A of the NDPS Act, 1985 provides punishment for any contravention of the Order made under section 9 A. An offender is liable for rigorous imprisonment, which may be extended to 10 years, and fine, which may extend to one lakh rupees. The court may impose a fine exceeding one lakh rupees after recording the reasons therefor.