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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 responses.

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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