If you’re in a sticky legal situation, contact your embassy as quickly as possible. However, be aware that all your embassy may be able to do is monitor your treatment in custody and arrange a lawyer. In the Indian justice system, the burden of proof can often be on the accused and stints in prison before trial are not unheard of. Travellers should note that they can be prosecuted under the law of their home country regarding age of consent, even when abroad.

Antisocial Behaviour

A number of Indian cities have banned spitting and littering, but, as is obvious to everyone, this is hardly enforced.


  • Indian law doesn't distinguish between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ drugs; possession of any illegal drug is regarded as a criminal offence, which will result in a custodial sentence.
  • Sentences may be up to a year for possession of a small amount for personal use, to a minimum of 10 years if it’s deemed the purpose was for sale or distribution.
  • Cases can take months, even several years, to appear before a court while the accused may have to wait in prison. There’s also usually a hefty monetary fine on top of any custodial sentence.
  • Be aware that travellers have been targeted in sting operations in some backpacker enclaves.
  • Marijuana grows wild in various parts of India, but consuming it is still an offence, except in towns where bhang is legally sold for religious rituals.
  • Police are getting particularly tough on foreigners who use drugs, so you should take this risk very seriously.


  • You should always carry your passport; police are entitled to ask you for identification at any time.
  • If you’re arrested for an alleged offence and asked for a bribe, note: it is illegal to pay a bribe in India. Many people deal with an on-the-spot fine by just paying it to avoid trumped-up charges.
  • Corruption is rife, so the less you have to do with local police the better; avoid potentially risky situations.