Constitutionality Of Narco-Test

  • Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act: An Explainer

    The debate around the Deception detection tests in India sparked when on the night of Friday, 2 October, the Uttar Pradesh government issued a press note wanting narco-test of family of the victim in hathras rape incident. So, this article will focus in detail about the deception detection tests like polygraph, narco-analysis test, and their constitutional validity along with its criticisms.

    As society progresses it is getting more unpredictable, crime introduces itself in various structures and more new methods of execution. These require the work of modern techniques in insightful and legal cycles, for example, DNA fingerprinting, lie-detector tests, cerebrum planning, and narco-tests. These procedures are similarly pertinent in situations where ordinary types of crime have expected immense proportion, as an open objection, or to compensate for deficiencies in the criminal justice system. Narco-test led on Abdul Karim Telgi in the stamp paper scam casw and a couple of various suspects in the Aarushi murder case are of contemporary relevance in narco-test. The methods include disclosure of certain relevant facts about the accused. They vary from normal investigative strategies, as they include a specific level of participation from the accused. Such participation need not be intentional and outcomes are often coercive. Courts in India have seen various difficulties in the constitutionality of these tests. While the choices of the courts have been unequivocal, there are a few issues that were not tended by them, either in light of the fact that they were not raised or on the grounds that they were not felt important for addressal. The constitutionality of these medical investigative tests depends on the facts of the case as the law on the status of medical investigative tests for evidentiary purposes isn't totally clear in Indian statutes.

    The 'narco-test' is also a kind of modern technique, used to extract the truth from the accused subject. It is an analysis done by a combination of medications for inciting an individual to a state of rest or sleep. Narco-test is done by injecting a chemical compound on an individual/suspect where the subject is changed in a condition of hypnotism, however, the individual is sub-intentionally alert, with the expectation of bringing out the facts from the his- subliminal brain. The condition of semi-oblivious happens because of an infusion of sodium pentothal/sodium amytal administered on the individual, while questions are often aimed in that state. In the somnific stage, the subject becomes less inhibited and is more likely to divulge information, which would usually not be revealed in the conscious state. Subjects may also divulge all of their fantasies, personal wishes, impulses, instinctual drive, illusions, delusions, conflicts, misinterpretations, etc. The cycle included is known as the 'narco test'.


    Medical investigative tests like narco-test don't have lawful legitimacy as admissions made by a semi-cognizant subject are not acceptable in court. The court may, notwithstanding, award restricted acceptability in the wake of considering the conditions under which the test was acquired. The primary proviso concerning the criminal investigation and trial in the Indian Constitution is Article 20(3). It manages the right against self-incrimination. The right against self-incrimination is a basic tenet of Common law criminal jurisprudence. Article 20(3) which typifies this right is read as, "No individual blamed for any offense will be constrained to be an observer against himself". Exposing the accused to the narco-test, as has been done by investigating agencies in India, is considered as an obtrusive infringement of Article 20(3). The use of the Narco Analysis test includes the principal question relating to lawfulness and furthermore to Human Rights. The legitimate situation of applying this strategy as an investigative guide raises certifiable issues like an infringement of a person's rights to privacy.

    The right against forced self-incrimination, commonly known as Right to Silence is revered in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Constitution of India. Citizens' right against self- implication is prudent in CrPC. Section.161 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure expresses that each individual "is bound to answer truthfully all questions, put to him by [a police] officer, other than questions the answers to which would have a tendency to expose that person to a criminal accusation, punishment or relinquishment". Contentions have been made that the narco-test establishes mental torment and accordingly disregards the right to privacy as it comes in ambit Article 21.

    The right to remain silent has been conceded to the accused by uprightness in the case of Nandini Sathpathy v. P.L.Dani, nobody can coercively remove proclamations from the accused, who has the right to keep quiet throughout the investigation. By performing these tests, persuasive interruption into one's psyche is being reestablished, accordingly invalidating the legitimacy and authenticity of the Right to Silence. In this case, the defendant guaranteed that she had a right of silence by Article 20(3) of the Constitution and Section 161 (2) of Cr. P.C. The Apex Court maintained her requests. On the same lines in the USA, concerning the case of Townsend v. Sain, it was held that the applicant's admission was naturally unacceptable as it was illustrated by the police during a period when the petitioner was under influence of a medication having the property of truth serum.

    The inquiry emerges with respect to when an individual may guarantee the security against self- implication. While Article 20(3) may propose that the protection is accessible just against articulations made in court, the lawful position is marginally unique. The Supreme Court has seen in State of Bombay v. Kathi Kalu Oghad that the assurance under this Article would be accessible not simply as for the court but also in addition to the past stages, if the charge against the accused prompts their indictment, regardless of whether the trials have commenced or not. Thus, should an occurrence of the narco-test, as referenced in Article 20(3) be pulled in regardless of whether the statements in such a test are made before trials . In any case, where the investigative agencies suspect someone to be accused, in such an occasion, these medical tests may create negative outcomes that may exonerate the accused. This might be known simply after the test has been managed. On this ground, the legitimacy of the test has been held to be premature. Therefore, just an inculpatory articulation will draw in the protection under Article 20(3).


    The Bombay High Court, in a significant verdict in Ramchandra Ram Reddy v the. State of Maharashtra, maintained the legitimacy on usage of P300 or brain mapping and narco-test. The Court additionally said that proof secured under the impact of the narco-investigation test is likewise acceptable as evidence. As crimes going hi-tech and criminals becoming professionals, the use of narco-analysis can be very useful, as the conscious mind does not speak out the truth, the unconscious may reveal vital information about a case. The judgment also held that these tests include negligible harm to the subjects body. In the recent case of Selvi v. State of Karnataka ruled that test results by themselves cannot be admitted as evidence because the subject does not exercise conscious control over the responses during the administration of the test. Notwithstanding, any data or material that is accordingly found with the assistance of willful managed test results can be conceded admissible by the virtue of Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. The Supreme Court discovered that narco-test abused people's right to privacy and added up to barbarous, brutal, or debasing treatment which is violation of a citizen's fundamental right under article 21. The Court found that driving a subject to go through narco- test, brain-mapping, or polygraph tests itself added up to the imperative impulse, paying little heed to the absence of physical damage done due to the test or the idea of the appropriate responses given during the tests.

    Recently, the CBI has sought to conduct these tests on the driver and helper of the truck that hit the Unnao rape victim in Uttar Pradesh in July, 2017. It also sought to conduct the tests on one accused in the Punjab National Bank alleged fraud case, but the court rejected the plea after the accused did not give consent. In May 2017, the founder of INX Media, Indrani Mukerjea, who is confronting trials for the alleged murder of her daughter Sheena Bora in 2012, lie detector test, which was declined by the CBI, expressing that they had adequate proof against her. Main accused in Aarushi murder case also went the polygraph test, yet it was non-conclusive.


    There are a lot of criticisms on the validity, credibility, and constitutionality as far as this test is concerned. Even though the medications have a typical name called 'truth serum', yet the degree of truth to be acquired by the serum is a refute issue. This problem arises because some persons can retain their ability to deceive even in the hypnotic state, while others can become extremely suggestible to questioning. Also, investigators may frame questions in a manner that may prompt incriminatory responses. The drugs used don't ensure that the subject will talk just the truth. The statements made in a somnific state are not discretionary and are additionally not in a conscious state; consequently these have not been conceded as evidence in court of law.

    A lot of times it has been found that a person has given false information even after the administration of drugs. It is not much help in case of malingers or evasive, untruthful people. It is very difficult to suggest a correct dose of drugs for a particular person. The dose of the medication will contrast to will power, mental demeanor, and body of the subject.


    Regardless of the after-effects of these medical investigative tests coupled with the questions made during cross-examination are not straightforwardly used during the examination gets a gigantic fillip on numerous events. It goes further to express that narco analysis has additionally replaced preventive criminology. The curl around the Aarushi talwar murder case, at last, got more clear after leading the narco examination test on certain suspects. Exacting legitimate reasons neglect to legitimize the narco-examination test, which evokes facts not in general nature but in a way where the subject is intoxicated with some medications only for the reason to extract some pieces of evidence of a certain crime that has occurred. It dispenses with the right of the accused to remain silent. The test can have repercussions on the wellbeing of the accused, and sometimes some side effects are observed in the subject. While it may not unequivocally disregard an individual's right to privacy whenever directed effectively, exacting procedural protections should be added to forestall maltreatment of the right to privacy. The only way one can see the justification of the narco-test is because when there is a practical necessity to get some reasonable evidence in a case to break the deadlock in favor of the investigative agency.

    The investigative agencies and all the elements of the criminal justice system should use legal methods to bring offenders to justice not by incriminating the accused against himself. It is as important to secure the rights of an accused individual against being constrained to implicate himself. The perception may in the best-case scenario, give investigative reasons to carry out the tests but it absolutely lacks legitimacy under any law.

    Avinash Kumar Yadav is a student of law at National law University, Delhi. He has keen interest in Human rights issues and constitutional law. He tweets from @Avinashyadavvv. Kumar Kartikeya is a student of law. He has avid interest in constitutional and criminal jurisprudence. He tweets from @kartikeyasays.

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