Narco-analysis is a crime detection technique in which a test is conducted
upon an accused person to reveal the facts of the case and important proof of
the commission of an offence. The test is generally administered by injecting
about 3 grams of chemicals like sodium pentothal or scopolamine dissolved in
3000 millilitres of distilled water into the accused person's body. This makes
the accused go into a hypnotic state, and the test is conducted while constantly
monitoring his blood pressure and heart rate.
An expert then asks carefully constructed questions to the accused and records
the answers. It is said that the chemical acts as a truth serum that enables the
expert to extract the truth from the subject. In turn, this information
extracted acts as a guiding point in detecting various ingredients required to
prove the commission of an offence. The narco analysis test was introduced for
the first time in India in 1936 but was first used in 2002 in the Godhara
As opined by Dr. M.S Rao, Chief Forensic Scientist for the government of India,
these deception detection tests play a vital role in uncovering and sometimes
even preventing terrorist activities. Considering the rise of India's crime
rate, this technology aids in discovering evidence by the police by soliciting
information from even hardened criminals.
These tests act as a good alternative to the traditional methods of torture
employed by the police, which impinge upon the rights of the persons. Since the
subject is put in a subconscious state by the drugs, there is very little
possibility of modifying the truth by the subject, which helps establish or
corroborate the guilt of the accused. Narco-test has proved to be useful in many
cases, such as the Abu Salem case, which uncovered his involvement in many
Nonetheless, many issues surround the administration of narco tests. Since a
chemical is introduced in the body of the subject, the excessive dosage could
lead to coma or even death of the person. Another issue is that since the
accused's mental and physical state is severely altered, the reliability of the
information received is questionable.
On several instances, it has been alleged that the administration of such
deception deduction techniques violates the right against self-incrimination
guaranteed under Article 20(3) of the Constitution. Article 20(3) provides that
‘no person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself’ and narco-test
impinges upon this fundamental right of the citizens. It is dreaded that even a
small mistake on the part of the person conducting the test can result in
serious danger to the life of the subject.
Administration of narco-test involves a complex interplay of law and technology
where the need for crime detection and protection of rights of the accused need
to be balanced. While technological and scientific developments are largely
welcome in the Indian criminal justice system, they cannot be allowed to take
away any person's rights.
In the case of Nandini Satpathyv. P.L. Dani,
the Apex Court held that no
person could be allowed to extract incriminating statements from the accused as
the accused has a right to remain silent during the course of an interrogation.
Similarly, in the case of Santokben Sharmabhai Jadeja v. State of Gujarat,
the Court upheld the order for the administration of Narco Analysis test on the
accused Santokben Sharmabhai Jadeja. It was observed by the Court that in a
situation where all possible alternatives to discover the truth or capture the
offenders have been exhausted, the prosecuting agency has no other remedy than
the recourse to scientific methods of deception detection tests. These tests
help overcome any obstacles or guide the police when the investigation reaches a
dead end. On the basis of such revelation, if the prosecuting agency comes
across some clues or records or a statement that helps or assists in further
investigation of the offence, then there will not be any violation of Article
20(3) of the Constitution of India.
In the case of Selvi v. State of Karnataka, it was held by the Supreme Court
that involuntary administration of narco-test is cruel, inhuman and degrading
in the light of Article 21 of the Constitution. Any information obtained through
involuntary narco-tests cannot be admitted as evidence in the Court of law.
The decision of the Court was based upon the reasoning that a person has no
conscious control over the results of such tests, and unless a person consents
to the procedure, it cannot be held to be valid. Involuntary administration of
narco-analysis test is a violation of Article 20(3) of the Constitution. No
person shall be forced to subject himself/ herself to such tests as it would
amount to an unwarranted invasion into the personal liberty of such person.
However, the Court laid down various guidelines to be followed while conducting
the tests with the consent of the accused. According to the Court, a subject
must be made well aware of the consequences, both legal and health, before the
test is done upon him, i.e. informed consent must be obtained. In case the
accused desires to subject himself to these tests, he must be provided access to
a lawyer. Physical, emotional, psychological and legal consequences must be
explained to the subject.
Consent of the accused must be recorded before a Magistrate, and it is the duty
of the Magistrate to ensure that such consent is voluntary. Information revealed
in these tests will not amount to a confessional statement in court proceedings.
All tests have to be recorded, and factual narration of the same must be taken
The efficiency of narco-analysis as a crime detection has been questioned in
several instances. It has been repeatedly argued that it violates the right
against self-incrimination of an accused subjected to a narco-analysis test.
While these tests use drugs meant to put them in a subconscious state and have
little or no control over the outcome. Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that
they assist the police in solving cases.
To balance the interests of the accused and the police, the Court has allowed
the conduction of deception deduction tests after an informed consent taken by
the accused in the presence of a lawyer as well as a medical professional.
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Kishan Dutt Kalaskar
Authentication No: MA34192199360-29-0521