File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

An Overview Of A Forensic Psychologist's Role In The Indian Justice Administration System

The recent article of Hindu newspaper[1] headlined Forensic psychologists should play a key role in preventing crimes, was the statement given by the Vice-Chancellor P. V. G. D. Prasad Reddy, the Vice-Chancellor Andhra of University. Furthermore, he said that the role of a forensic psychologist does not end with reducing crime but should also aim at putting a stop to it.

Back in 2017, the article of Live Mint newspaper[2] titled The case of India's missing forensic psychologists, highlighted the dearth of forensic psychologists in India as well as the importance of their work in the criminal justice system. One example given in the piece is of Dr.S.L.Vaya, an acclaimed forensic psychologist who provided her expertise in the Aarushi murder case. While it was mentioned that the evidence, she gave was widely disregarded at the time by law enforcement officials, it was also reported that polygraph tests performed on several of the suspects showed that the evidence was quite akin to the actual sequence of events.

With the background for the position of role of forensic psychologist in India established, the article will move on to briefing the concept of forensic psychology and the widely acknowledged roles of forensic psychologists, and discuss the current legislative provisions and judicial discussions and the outlook for its development in the future.

Concept of Forensic Psychology
Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and human behaviour. It is concerned with usage of scientific methods to analyse and assess human psychological phenomena in order to better understand how the mind, brain, and subsequent behaviour functions.

It is a multifaceted discipline and includes many sub-fields of study which focus on human development, social behaviour and cognitive processes. One of its sub-disciplines is forensic psychology.

Forensic Psychology is defined by the APA[3] as, the application of psychological principles and techniques to situations involving the civil and criminal legal systems. Its functions include assessment and treatment services, provision of advocacy and expert testimony, policy analysis, and research on such topics as eyewitness accounts, offender behaviour, interrogations, and investigative practices.
  • Forensic psychology is characterised by its advanced knowledge and skills, which represent the convergence of legal theory, processes, and law with clinical issues, practise, and ethics.
  • It is a branch of psychology that focuses on matters of law. It primarily contributes to the timely and effective operation of the criminal justice system.
  • It uses scientific concepts, methods, and techniques to examine the minds of offenders and witnesses in order to ascertain the actual facts of the case, namely the reasons why the criminal committed the crime or the motivation for engaging in such crime.
Role of forensic psychologists
The work of a forensic psychologist is diverse and extensive. They serve as an expert witness in court cases, aid the police in their investigations, offer guidance on questioning suspects or witnesses, facilitate rehabilitation of offenders, conduct forensic psychology research or engage in academia.

They are sought both in civil and criminal procedures.

Some of the roles they play are listed below:
Civil Proceedings Criminal Proceedings
 Conducting Child Custody and Parenting Evaluations (in cases of child custody) Assessing competency to stand trial
Conducting personal injury evaluations Assessing criminal responsibility
Assessing civil capacities Providing treatment and rehabilitation to victims, witnesses and accused who went through psychological distress

Contribution of Legislations towards inclusion of forensic psychology
One of the bottlenecks that the Indian law-making system is facing is the lack of flexibility and evolution in its legislations. With the continual addition of newer crimes, the remedies of the statute remain as old as they were when it was adopted. Though changes are being made, the legislations have a long-broken bridge that is to be repaired by incorporating contemporary techniques and strategies.

In this context, forensic psychology does not have an effective and separate provision of its own. In the present status, it might be seen as an integrated factor. The provisions include;

Section 84 of Indian Penal Code 1860:
This provision is considered as a general exception, wherein the accused is let off on the ground of the act not amounting to an offence.

Under this provision, an accused is let off on the ground of unsound mind, with certain criteria's to be fulfilled, which includes;

At the time of committing the act, he is of unsound mind wherein he is incapable of knowing:
  • the nature of the act
  • what is either wrong or contrary to law
The role played by a forensic psychologist in this regard, will be the assessment of the accused i.e., whether he is indeed of an unsound mind or was not able to understand the nature of the crime.

If the report goes in favour of the accused, no case can be tried against him.

Section 45 of the Evidence Act:- this provision provides for inclusion of expert opinion as a relevant fact of evidence.

This inclusion is necessitated when the Court has to form an opinion on the subjects of foreign law, science or art, or identification of handwriting or finger impressions. The statements of experts are accepted in this regard. Experts in this provision, can be identified as persons who are specifically skilled in either of the above-mentioned fields.

The role played by forensic psychologist in this regard, will be to impart their knowledge and expertise to the courtroom, which acts as corroborative evidence i.e., a source that supports an already existing evidence. The opinion will be delivered in the form of reports of in-depth interviews and thorough assessments of the suspects in question and their testimony to the court.

Judicial Discussion on Forensic Psychology
If legislations play the role of making laws on the one hand, the judiciary plays an equally vital role of interpreting and furthering its objectives on the other.

Through the delivery of its judgements, there is a detailed discussion of concepts, which makes one clearly realise on the relevance of such notion and its linked action.

With this approach, the judiciary has pronounced numerous judgements, either to legislative modifications or paving the way for the establishment of entirely new legislation.

In the landmark case of Selvi v State of Karnataka (2010) 7 SCC 263[4] delivered by the Hon'ble Supreme Court, the involuntary administration of certain scientific techniques for the purpose of improving investigation efforts in criminal cases is discussed by addressing various concerns such as violation of constitutional provisions including personal liberty, right against-self-incrimination; mental privacy and others.

The court did, however, specify the work nature of forensic psychologists by emphasising their significance in its discussion. The judgement in this respect states that; "The personnel involved in conducting a `narcoanalysis' interview include a forensic psychologist It is the forensic psychologist who actually conducts the questioning. Since the tests are meant to aid investigation efforts, the forensic psychologist needs to closely co-operate with the investigators in order to frame appropriate questions."

In the case of Adesh Kumar v State of U.P And Another 2020:AHC:119817[5], the Court observed the role of forensic psychologists, which is described as follows;

"the three Tests namely Narco Analysis Test, Brain Mapping Test and Lie Detecting Test are called Deception Detecting Tests (DDTs) which implies psychological evaluation of human brain The DDTs are useful to know the concealed information related to crime. This information, which is known only to self, is sometimes crucial for criminal investigation. Hence, much effort is devoted by the forensic psychologists in developing different techniques and methods to detect lies."

It should be noted that the courtroom deliberations in these cases focused on the scientific methods employed in interrogations, with just a small part of the discussion addressing the role of forensic psychologists.

One reason to be appreciative is that the Indian criminal justice system is beginning to take forensic psychology seriously. Sadly, it is still in the early stages of development. Even while educational institutes have been set up to offer a formal degree in this sector, the prospect of it being recognised as a profession and integrated into the criminal justice system seems faraway.

This necessitates the implementation of steps to improve and develop this sector, as this will greatly benefit the country's criminal investigation and justice systems. A possible approach is to expand the areas of forensic psychologists and use their expertise across different platforms.

  1. Visakhapatnam: Forensic psychologists should play a key role in preventing crimes, says Andhra University Vice-Chancellor - The Hindu
  2. The case of India's missing forensic psychologists | Mint (
  3. APA Dictionary of Psychology

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Ravani Ukti Nayudu
Awarded certificate of Excellence
Authentication No: NV330880023202-4-1123

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly