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Narco-Analysis As Scientific Evidence in Criminal Proceedings: A Critical Analysis

Till recently, the courts had to rely on non-scientific evidences only because of the non-availability of proper technology. Scientific evidences are crucial to the fact finder in order to arrive at the logical consequence in deciding large number of issues brought before him/her. In the present era, they have almost become indispensable to them. This research paper mainly address that how scientific Evidence are used in Criminal trials and how they play crucial role.

This paper highlights the validity and Admissibility of Narco-analysis results in court. And further highlights about the Narcoanalysis in India. This research paper focuses on the use of scientific evidence in criminal trials and how important it is. This essay emphasizes the reliability and legal admissibility of narcotics analytical findings. And additional information regarding the Indian Narco-analysis

In the past, the courts have relied on non-scientific evidence like eyewitness testimony. Since its authenticity cannot be verified, such evidence cannot be trusted. To verify the authenticity of these pieces of evidence, techniques like narcoanalysis, brain mapping, and lie detectors are frequently used. With the advent of expert scientific testimony, judicial uneasiness with handling scientific evidence has grown recently.

One of the scientific techniques used to identify the offender is the narcoanalysis test. When all other investigative techniques fail to identify the accused, this test has only recently started to gain recognition as being significant. The tests' results are only used to facilitate the investigation process; they are not admitted as evidence in court.

Narco-analysis was first applied in India in the Godhra carnage case in 2002. It gained attention after the well-known Arun Bhatt kidnapping case in Gujarat, in which the accused refused to submit to a narco-analysis and instead appeared before the NHRC and the SC of India. When Abdul Karim Telgi was put to the test in December 2003, it was once again in the news as part of the Telgi stamp paper hoax. Although enormous amounts of information were produced in the Telgi case, questions were raised regarding the value of the information as evidence

Scientific Evidence In Criminal Proceedings

Evidence rules in criminal trials place restrictions on the information that can be offered as evidence as well as how it can be done. Information obtained via the "scientific method" is known as scientific evidence, or forensic evidence. Both sides frequently present scientific evidence during a criminal trial, such as DNA, fingerprints, ballistics, and other materials. When a judge or jury is presented with scientific data, a significant question that can come up is whether or not the evidence is acceptable.

The most crucial role of scientific inquiry is to transform uncertainty into a justifiable certainty of guilt or innocence. One could argue that justice is achieved through science when a judgement is reached using scientific evidence, such as biological evidence, which is impossible to fabricate. The scientific tests can be utilized in two different ways, either as direct evidence in court during a trial or just as hints for further research.

The decision to admit scientific evidence, however, rests with the presiding judge, who must take into account the admissibility of the evidence, the reliability of the research behind it, and the potential weight of each piece of evidence in a particular case. Scientific evidence is relevant when traditional criminal behavior has grown significantly, such as when there is a public uproar, or when there are gaps in the investigative process.

In contrast to polygraphs and narcoanalysis tests, which cannot be trusted since the results of these examinations are not always reliable, DNA fingerprinting is one such examination for which there is a wealth of scientific evidence supporting its validity. Since there is a chance that the subject of the test may be confessing while under the effect of the drugs given to him, the admissions that the accused may make during these tests cannot be taken to be honest.

Dinesh Dalmia v State by Spe (2006)
The Court ruled that the investigation team may move forward with scientific testing to identify any clues for the case if the accused refuses to participate with the investigation team, the investigation cannot be completed within a reasonable amount of time, and if the nature of the case permits.

The Narco-Analysis Test

The name "narcoanalysis" comes from the Greek word 'narkc' (meaning anesthesia or torpor). Horselley is credited with creating the phrase "narcoanalysis." Criminal narco- analysis has been scrutinized ever since it was first used in a recorded case in 1922, with utterly unfavorable outcomes.

One of the DDTs methods utilized by criminal investigative systems to question the accused and elicit the information and context of the crime from the subject is the narcoanalysis test. In India, the practice of narcoanalysis has long been employed. The use of various scientific tests or DDTs for additional research has frequently been approved by the courts. The following medical professionals and other officers make up the team in India that administers the narco-analysis test:
  • An anesthesiologist
  • A psychiatrist
  • A forensic psychologist
  • An audio-videographer
  • And supporting nursing staff.
A forensic psychologist reads the test, analyses it, and then gives a report with a video clip that is kept on a CD. This test is further validated with a polygraph (lie detector) test and brain mapping, if the courts deem it essential.

When a person is put in for narcoanalysis, they are in a disinhibited condition, which means they are not aware of what they are doing. A licensed anesthetist performs it by injecting distilled water and sodium pentathol solution into the veins. The test is carried out by acting out scenarios or events or by asking the witness questions and prompting him to respond. As the witness is not in a state to actively consider his responses, the solution functions like a truth serum.

To avoid any health complications, a team of doctors continuously monitors the testifier's vital signs. The entire process is videotaped, and the doctors then provide a report. The administration of insufficient amounts of drugs is one of the many issues with the testing. The witness is capable of creating hypothetical situations and preventing dis-inhibition.
Legal Perspective Of Narco-Analysis
Constitution Of India
Nemo tenetur seipsum accusare, which literally translates to "no one must accuse himself," is one of the cornerstones of the criminal judicial system. Art 20(3) of the Indian Constitution makes it quite clear that no one can be made to witness against himself. The clause established the presumption that the accused is innocent until proven guilty, that the prosecution must prove the accused's guilt and that the accused was acting against his will before the accused is required to provide a statement.

The Right against Self-Incrimination, often known as the Right to Silence, is guaranteed by Art 20(3) of the Indian Constitution, Sec 161(2) of the CrPC deals with the protection against self-incrimination for all people. Art 20(3) of the Constitution would be broken if the test were administered against the accused's will, but if the test was administered voluntarily and with the accused's permission, that provision would not be broken.

The current criminal justice system is built on the well-known legal maxim, Let the hundred guilty walk unpunished rather than an innocent being punished, and as a result, it is tilted in favor of the accused and obsessed with individual liberties, which makes the evidence less reliable.

State of Bombay, v Kathi Kalu Oghad (1961)
In this case, the court decided that in order to use the protections of Art 20(3) of the Constitution, it must be demonstrated that the witness was forced to make a statement that was self-incriminating.

The right to life and the right to privacy, as guaranteed by Art 21 of the Constitution, are other grounds for challenging the narco-analysis test. One's privacy is allegedly violated when someone is coerced into speaking or when someone's thoughts are forcibly read. Additionally, this test's mental torment violates Art 21's guarantee of the right to a dignified existence.

Indian Evidence Act 1872

The two categories of prospective evidence are admission and confession. The primary argument is that Secs 25 and 26 of the Indian Evidence Act of 1872 were violated by the evidence gathered during the test. However, if the test is done in front of the magistrate, then the confession is legitimate and does not contravene Secs 25 and 26.
  • Section 25: Sec 25 states that No confession given to a police officer can be used as evidence against someone who is being accused of a crime.
  • Section 26: Sec 26 of Indian Evidence Act 1872 states that No confession made by a person while they are in the custody of a police officer may be used against them unless they do so in the immediate presence of a magistrate.
  • Section 45: In some circumstances, the Indian Evidence Act of 1872's Section 45 does permit expert testimony. Section 45 states that:
    When the court must make a decision regarding a matter of foreign law, science, art, or as to the identity of handwriting or finger impressions, Section 45 states that the opinions of persons particularly knowledgeable in such matters of foreign law, science, art, or as to the identity of handwriting or finger impressions are relevant.
The other aspects of forensic evidence that may be admitted in court during criminal proceedings are not addressed in this sec, though.

View Of Indian Judiciary

SeIvi Murugesan v. State of Karnataka, (2010)
In this case HC of Karnataka held that according to Sec 53(1) of the CrPC of 1973, a narco-analysis test performed by a licensed medical professional in accordance with the approved procedures is acceptable. Justice Majage cited Sec 53 (1), which authorizes the use of reasonable force by a physician at the request of a police officer in order to gather information that might lead to the discovery of fresh evidence. Every person has a responsibility to report crimes, and Art 20(3) cannot obstruct efforts to learn the truth.

State of Gujarat v. Anirudh Singh (1997)
The SC ruled that it is a legal requirement for every witness who has knowledge of a crime to help the state in providing evidence. It also seems reasonable that if a person is unwilling to provide information that is necessary for an investigation, an adverse impression must be made of them, and it would not be a violation of Art 20(3). The court achieved a compromise between constitutional protection and narcoanalysis in this manner.

Dharampal v. State (2003)
According to the SC, if a member of society is unwilling to cooperate with an inquiry, the criminal justice system will not be able to function efficiently. Therefore, it is everyone's job to help the government carry out criminal justice, and no one may shirk their social obligations by hiding criminal facts in the pretext of a personal freedom that isn't unalienable.

Dinesh Dalmia v. State (2006)
The Madras HC ruled that scientific examinations of the accused for the purpose of inquiry and to elicit the truth, such as narcoanalysis tests, polygraphs, and brain mapping, would not infringe their right to remain silent.

Nandini Satpathy v. P. L. Dami (1978)
The SC ruled that the accused has the right to remain silent during the investigation and that no one can force him or her to give comments or information. The right to remain silent was asserted and maintained by the SC under Art 20(3) of the Indian Constitution and Sec 161(2) of the CrPC.

Rojo George v. Deputy Superintendent of Police (1953)
The court approved the narcoanalysis test on the grounds that modern criminals have begun to use a variety of contemporary methods to carry out their crimes, making it necessary to employ new scientific techniques like DDT because the old methods of inquiry and interrogation are insufficient and ineffective. The court further ruled that it was not permissible to claim that investigative authorities had infringed any Indian citizen's fundamental human rights when such procedures were utilized in the presence of experts.

Mohinder Singh Pandher and Surender Singh Koli v. State of U.P. (2011)
In this case, a narcoanalysis test was performed on Mohinder Singh Pandher and Surender Koli in 2007, the main suspects in the infamous Nithari Killing case. The test's main purpose was to determine the accuracy of the statements they made while being questioned in a detention facility. During the examination, the defendant divulged the names of numerous women and children who had been slain by them, as well as the rationale behind his decision to rape the victims after their deaths. Numerous significant and pertinent details were revealed to the investigating agencies over the course of this test.

Therefore, the judge will decide whether this test is constitutional, and there is a balance between the interests of society and those of the individual.

Advantages Of Narco-Analysis Test

There are certain advantages of performing Narco-analysis test.

These advantages are as follows:
  • When it is completely impossible to locate any additional evidence, it is necessary to provide the investigating authorities with a range of contemporary tools and scientific approaches that they might employ to support their efforts.
  • The use of a scientific method instead of a third-degree interrogation, which is particularly heinous and violates people's rights, can be done by using a narcoanalysis test.
  • By examining the current troubling state of society in terms of crime, criminals, the rate of wrongdoing, and influenced blameless individuals, it is by all accounts the right moment to look into the ways in which this might be decreased. It is possible by providing the investigating authorities with rich innovation and by introducing scientific techniques like the narcoanalysis test.
  • Scientific techniques like the narcoanalysis test can be used to track the involvement of criminals and their objectives in complex criminal cases where the police are unable to determine the guilty and the truth.
  • This process can be used to obtain admissible evidence from the accused, prove a point, and correlate it with other pieces of evidence.
  • The test helps to identify if a person participated in terrorist activity directly or indirectly.

Criticism Of Narco-Analysis Test

On the grounds that it is not always accurate, narcoanalysis has drawn criticism. It was discovered that several subjects made blatantly fraudulent claims. It should not be used to compare the statement already given to the police prior to using drugs because it frequently fails to extract the truth. The issue that the narco-analysis test raises is whether it is reasonable to conduct a test that invades one's body and violates privacy by penetrating the accused's thoughts. Whether it is acceptable to employ cruel methods to obtain the truth?

It is stated that only interviewees who have received effective training in conducting interviews should administer the test because the process of jogging a memory that the witness has already forgotten could result in factual distortion. All courts have consistently emphasized the significance of consent for the narco-analysis test. The narco-analysis test should not be performed without consent, and it is determined that the test was fair and without coercion without being aware of the circumstances surrounding the assent.

In India, the crime rate is very high while the conviction rate is relatively low. The main cause of this discrepancy is incompetent investigation. The investigative process in our criminal justice system needs to be made more capable and sophisticated, and new scientific methodologies and procedures need to be used.

A Narco-Analysis Test result has some validity, but it is not entirely admissible in court, which evaluates its admissibility based on the circumstances surrounding how it was collected. A step in the investigation is the narco-analysis test. It aids in laying a solid foundation for further research and the gathering of data. Narco-analysis test results in India whether admissible or not depends on the discretion of presiding judge and hence it is not admissible in totality before court of law.

These kinds of test are only acceptable if it is either ordered by the judge or by taking prior permission of the judge so that it does not infringe Art. 20(3) of Indian Constitution. Hence the Narco-Analysis Test Results do not have strong evidentiary value before court of law.

Narco-analysis has always been criticized due to the belief that it violates the accused's right to life and right to privacy as various human rights have advanced. The use of narco-analysis in criminal investigations has proven to be a useful and successful method that has a significant impact on both the guilty and the innocent, advancing the cause of justice. Only in situations where the interests of society as a whole are at stake should this test be applied


  • INDIATV, Last Visited on 19th November 2022
  • Sayani Banerjee, Scientific Evidence in Criminal Trials � Narcoanalysis, 8 Legal Desire International Journal On Law, 78, 83-85(2005)
  • The Indian Express, Last Visited on 19th November 2022
  • Indian Law Portal, Last Visited on 19th November 2022
  • Indu Rani, Evidentiary Value of Narco-Analysis Test, 9, International Journal Of Research In Social Sciences, 1021, 1023-1026 (2019)
  • Dinesh Dalmia v state by Spe, 2006 CriLJ 2401
  • State of Bombay, v Kathi Kalu Oghad, 1962 SCR (3) 10
  • SeIvi Murugesan v. State of Karnataka, Criminal Appeal No. 54 of 2005
  • State of Gujarat v. Anirudh Singh, MANU/SC/0749/1997
  • Dharampal v. State, MANU/SC/0260/2003
  • Nandini Satpathy v. P. L. Dami, AIR 1978 SC 1025
  • Rojo George v. Deputy Superintendent of Police, AIR 1953 SC 131
  • Mohinder Singh Pandher and Surender Singh Koli v. State of U.P, AIR 2011 SC 970
  • Shailendra Sharma v. State & Anr, WP (Crl.) 532 OF 2008

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