The use of opium for medicinal purposes in India can be traced back as far back as 1000 AD where it finds mention in ancient texts such as �Dhanwantri Nighantu� as a remedy for variety of ailments. .  In Emperor Akbar time (1543 to 1605) opium was cultivated extensively in the Malwa (in MP) and Mewar (in Rajasthan) regions.  The opium poppy contains alkaloids such as morphine, codeine, thebaine, narcotine, papavarine which have analgesic, anti-tussive and anti-spasmodic properties.

During the British East India Company Rule, collection of revenue from opium was made part of fiscal policy and various Opium Agencies such as the Bengal, Benaras, Bihar, Malwa Agencies were formed over time.  Prior to 1950,  the administration of the Narcotics Laws, namely, the Opium Act of 1857 & 1878 and the Dangerous Drugs Act 1930 vested with the Provincial Government.  The amalgamation of these Agencies laid the foundation of the Opium Department in November, 1950 which is presently known as Central Bureau of Narcotics (CBN). The headquarters of Central Bureau of Narcotics was shifted from Shimla to Gwalior in 1960.

All the three enactments mentioned above were repealed by the Narcotics Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act, 1985).

The responsibilities of CBN cover:

  • Supervision over licit cultivation of opium poppy In India spread across 22 Districts 102 Tehsils/ Parganas in the States of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Preventive and enforcement functions especially in the three poppy growing States.
  • Investigation of cases under the NDPS Act, 1985 and filing of complaint in the Court.
  • Action for tracing and freezing of illegally acquired property as per the provisions of Chapter V-A of the NDPS Act, 1985.
  • Issue of licences for manufacture of synthetic narcotic drugs
  • Issuance of Export Authorisations/ Import Certificate for export/ import of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances
  • Issuance of No Objection Certificate (NOC) for import/ export of a select number of Precursor Chemicals
  • Import of Poppy Seeds are permitted only from Australia, Austria, France, China, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Spain Turkey and Czech Republic on production of an appropriate certificate from the Competent Authority of the exporting country that the opium have been grown licitly/ legally in that country. All import contracts for this item shall compulsory be registered with the Narcotics Commissioner, Gwalior prior to import.
  • India is a signatory to the UN Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961, UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances 1971 & UN Convention against the Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988 which obligates member countries to monitor the implementation of the United Nations drug control conventions.  CBN interacts with the International Narcotics Control Board, Vienna and the Competent Authorities of other countries to verify genuiness of the transaction prior to authorizing the shipments.
Narcotics Commissioners

S.No:

Name
S/Shri
From To

1. A.C.Whitcher Nov. ‘1950 29-05-1952
2. S.C. Mathur 30-05-1952 01-07-1955
3. S.P. Kampani 01-07-1955 18-07-1957
4. Tilak Raj 18-07-1957 06-09-1961
5. D.N. Kohli 06-09-1961 28-05-1966
6. B.S. Chawla 28-05-1966 21-02-1973
7. V.R. Sonalkar 21-02-1973 31-07-1974
8. B.S. Chawla 31-07-1974 15-08-1974
9. A.Shankar 16-08-1974 31-03-1977
10. M.L.Wadhawan 01-09-1977 02-09-1979
11. M.M.Bhatnagar 03-09-1979 14-06-1985
12. M.C.Sharma 14-06-1985 10-12-1985
13. A.M.Prasad 10-12-1985 30-04-1987
14. D.Chakraborty 23-06-1987 02-07-1991
15. Kailash Sethi 03-07-1991 22-07-1996
16. R.Bhattacharji 23-07-1996 31-12-2001(A/N)
17. Harsh Vardhan Chauhan 31-12-2001(A/N) 03-05-2006
18. Ms. Jagjit Pavadia 11-5-2006 30-03-2012
19. Vinay Chhabra 30-03-2012 18-06-2012
20. Vijay Kalsi 19-06-2012 Till Date
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