Selvi v/s State Of Karnataka: Understanding Forensic Testing-Limits, Legalities, and Rights
Forensic laboratory or a hospital would effectively be in a custodial
environment. This presumption applies regardless of whether the person has been
formally accused, is a suspect, or a witness. Even in the absence of a
significant police presence, the physical confinement and involuntary
administration of tests suffice to constitute a custodial environment,
triggering the application of Article 20(3) and Article 21.
Limitations Of Tests In Respect To Privacy
Polygraph tests have their fair share of limitations and are susceptible to
errors. The fundamental concept behind these tests is questionable because the
observed physiological responses may not necessarily indicate deception. These
responses can be influenced by various emotions such as nervousness, anxiety,
fear, or confusion.
Additionally, the physical conditions in the room where the polygraph test is
conducted can introduce distortions in the recorded responses. Ideally, the test
should be administered in a comfortable and distraction-free environment with
complete privacy to ensure accuracy.
The mental state of the subject is crucial as well. Someone experiencing extreme
emotions like depression or hyperactivity may exhibit significantly different
physiological responses, potentially leading to misleading results.
In some cases, the subject may have experienced memory loss between the relevant
incident and the time of the test. When the subject has no recollection of the
facts in question, their physiological responses won't provide any insight into
truth or deception.
Errors can also arise from "memory-hardening," where the subject has
unintentionally created and solidified false memories about a particular event,
often seen in recollections of traumatic experiences. The subject may genuinely
believe in these false memories without realizing they are lying.
Polygraph tests do not guarantee absolute accuracy, and there's always a
possibility that the subject won't disclose relevant information. Some studies
have indicated that most drug-induced revelations are unrelated to the relevant
facts and tend to focus on inconsequential personal details.
Interrogators require significant skill to extract and identify useful
information. Some individuals may maintain their ability to deceive even under
the influence of hypnosis, while others can become highly susceptible to
suggestive questioning. This susceptibility is concerning, as investigators
seeking results might frame questions in a way that encourages incriminating
Subjects might also fabricate elaborate stories while in a hypnotic state. Since
responses vary among individuals, there's no standardized criterion for
assessing the effectiveness of the "narcoanalysis" technique.
Another notable limitation is that even if the tests indicate familiarity with
specific details, they do not provide conclusive evidence of the subject's
involvement in the investigated crime.
For instance, a bystander who witnessed a crime could potentially be wrongly
implicated based on their familiarity with the information.
Furthermore, in cases involving amnesia or "memory-hardening," the tests can be
misleading. Even if the inferences drawn from the "P300 wave test" are used to
corroborate other evidence, they can significantly impact a verdict of guilt or
innocence, despite their uncertain foundation.
In conclusion, the Supreme Court's verdict has effectively resolved conflicts
surrounding the constitutionality of Narco analysis, Brain-Mapping, and
Polygraph Tests. It prohibits the involuntary administration of these tests,
deeming them "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment."
The right against self-incrimination is upheld for individuals at both the
investigative and trial stages, extending protection to not only accused persons
but also suspects and witnesses. This comprehensive judgment, enriched with
references to numerous foreign rulings, offers a thorough legal perspective on
the validity of these scientific techniques, deserving commendation.
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