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INTRODUCTION TO TECHNIQUE
Involvement of science and technology in our life is ineffable. Scientific evolution of tools and techniques has led to their arrival of modern methods in criminal investigation also. Interdisciplinary approach in legal field have always been accepted and encouraged by our society. In our modern age of dynamic development science and law also linked together to significant extent. A boost has been given to traditional laws of crime detection and investigation with the introduction of new and advanced techniques such as brain mapping, hypnosis, P-300, polygraph test etc. This branch of law is also known as Neuro Law.
One of the fruits of scientific development is narco-analysis, it is based on neuroscience (study of brain and nervous system), psycho therapeutic technique using psychotropic drugs presumed to place the concerned person into “hypnotic state”. It has been observed that person under the influence of anesthetic or psychotropic drug divulge information that they believed to be true or authentic to their knowledge. Narco-analysis furnishes controversial questions at the intersection of medicinal ethics and legal jurisprudence. This article is revolved around the ethical dilemma faced by judiciary on the topic of ‘Admissibility of narco-analysis test’.
PURPOSE & PROCEDURE
Aim of this test is to reveal truth in urgent matter or in situations where accused is not exactly cooperating. Narco-analysis test is usually conducted by a group of members including- an anesthesiologist, a psychiatrist, a clinical/forensic psychologist, an audio-videographer and supporting nursing staff.
Steps of procedure:
psychotropic drugs (mostly barbiturates) is administered
accused is subjected to series of questions
forensic psychologist prepares the account of revelations, escorted by audio-video footage
For well-being of patient his vitals are monitored throughout the procedure also consent of person who is being tested plays a crucial role before the commencement of test. The authority of revealed facts is also verified by polygraph and brain mapping tests.
ADMISSIBILITY IN COURT OF LAW
“No person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself”
Above statement is provided in Clause 3 of Article 20 in Indian Constitution, rule against self-incrimination is the fundamental basis of human rights jurisprudence all over the world. Agencies in order to expedite their investigation apply this method, human right activists consider narco-analysis a blatant violation of Article 20(3) of Constitution. Nemo Tenetur se Ipsum Accusare – meaning of said maxim is – if the confession from the accused is derived from any kind of compulsion it should stand to be rejected by the court of law. In State of Bombay vs Kathi Kalu Oghad, it was held-
“it must be shown that the accused was compelled to make statement likely to be incriminate of himself. Compulsion means duress, which includes threatening, beating or imprisonment of wife, parent or child of person. Thus, where the accused makes a confession without any inducement, threat or promise art 20(3) does not apply. Thus, the privilege against self-incrimination enables the maintenance of human privacy and observance of civilized standards in the enforcement of criminal justice.”
Apart from Indian constitution, right against self-incrimination also known as Right to Silence, is explicitly mention in Section 161(2) of Criminal Procedure code which states that every person “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 charge, penalty or forfeiture.”
Consent of the person subjected to concerned technique is necessary in order to produce the revelations in court, although the results of narco-analysis don’t have complete validity as the statements is given by semi-conscious person but courts however grant limited admissibility after considering the circumstances under which the test was obtained. In case of Selvi v. State of Karnataka, Court believed the use of polygraph, narco-analysis and brain mapping tests on accused, suspects and witnesses without their consent as unconstitutional and violation of the ‘right to privacy'.
“We hold that no individual should be forcibly subjected to any of the techniques in question, whether in the context of investigation in criminal cases or otherwise. Doing so would amount to an unwarranted intrusion into personal liberty.”
In Arushi Talwar murder case, results of narco-analysis were made admissible in court but sometimes later Supreme Court of India ruled it unconstitutional but let investigators use the test results for leads.
Narco-analysis has been one of the debated topics among the legal fraternity and in field of medicine. Introduction of any new phenomenon often diverge people into separate groups. Similarly, lawyers are divided on question - whether revelations of narco-analysis test should be admissible in court of law or not? One set of criminal lawyers believe that narco-analysis can only assist the police investigation but there could be case where person subjected to test is only acting to be under the influence of chemical administered and might take wrong names to taint or mislead investigating officer. Results of above-mentioned technique should only be used to support other conclusive evidence. On the other hand, supporters say – Although statement made by semi-conscious person can’t be admissible but it does hold some validity based on the circumstances under which it was obtained.
At last, free consent of person is required in order to conduct such tests. It has been observed that subjecting accused to narco-analysis test is made compulsory in serious crimes, it may mark the way for improved criminal justice system.
End notes  Dr. Pradeep Kumar Singh, “Narco-Analysis Test and Law in India”, madhavuniversity.edu.in, Available at - https://madhavuniversity.edu.in/nacro-analysis-test.html (Accessed on - 6 June 2021) State of Bombay vs Kathi Kalu Oghad, 1961 AIR 1808; 1962 SCR (3) 10 Selvi v. State of Karnataka, AIR 2010 SC 1974