In this case, the Supreme Court considered whether several techniques for
acquiring evidence were constitutional, including polygraph tests, BEAP (Brain
Electrical Activation Profile), sometimes known as "brain mapping," and
The Court found that the employment of such neuroscientific investigative
techniques constituted testimonial compulsion and violated both an accused
person's right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution
and their right not to be subjected to self-incrimination under Article 20. (3).
The Court determined that when interpreting the ban on self-harm, the multiple
features of personal liberty under Article 21 such as the right to a fair trial
and substantive due process would have to be taken into account when
interpreting the infringement of the Constitution's Article 20(3).
The Court then looked at the significance of mental privacy, the right to speak
or remain silent, and how they relate to personal autonomy as aspects of the
right to privacy after tracing the history of the right to privacy in India. It
was also decided that this would apply to everyone who might be charged with a
crime and face prosecution, including suspects and witnesses. The Court stated
that it is important to take into account the relationship between Article
20(3), the privilege against self-incrimination, and Article 21's right to
The court also decided that getting testimonial statements under pressure is
against the law and cannot be a legal use of police power, and that using drugs
to get confessions and monitoring physiological responses would violate the
subject's right to privacy. As a result, the Court decided that these tests
cannot be administered without the accused's legitimate consent.
Facts of the case
The Supreme Court in this case granted a special leave petition after hearing
complaints concerning instances in which suspects, witnesses, and accused
individuals were subjected to neuroscientific testing without their knowledge or
consent. The Court considered whether it was constitutional to get evidence
using neuroscientific tests such as polygraph, BEAP, or "brain mapping."
The polygraph test keeps track of bodily responses like respiration, blood
pressure, pulse, and galvanic skin resistance in order to find lying or
deception. The Court considered whether it was constitutional to use
neuroscientific tests to gather evidence, such as polygraph, BEAP, or "brain
The polygraph test keeps track of physiological responses like breathing, blood
pressure, pulse, and galvanic skin resistance in order to find lying or
deception. Sodium pentothal is intravenously injected during the narcoanalysis
test. This medicine causes a hypnotic trance that reduces inhibitions in the
subject In order to determine if a subject is familiar with a certain piece of
information, the BEAP analyses brain activity in reaction to particular stimuli.
Issues of the Case:
Arguments from Petitioner side
- If the "right against self-incrimination" guaranteed in Article 20(3) of
the Constitution was breached by the involuntary administration of the
- Whether the disputed methods imposed a justifiable limit on "personal
liberty" as in light of Article 21 of the Constitution, must be understood.
The petitioners contend that the application of neuroscientific procedures by
those under duress violated their Article 20 right to "prevent
self-incrimination" (3). The petitioners asserted that: "Article 21's provision
of "personal liberty" was expanded by the inclusion of "substantive due
The petitioners also claimed that a prohibition is covered under Article 21's
purview that there is a restriction against harsh, inhumane, or humiliating
treatment and that forcing someone to utilise the disputed procedures would go
against this rule. Last but not least, they argued that the proposed strategies
would violate the test subjects' right to both physical and mental privacy.
The petitioners contended that the examinations themselves lacked scientific
validity and were instead limited to confirmatory, and therefore there was no
reason to believe the evidence gained through them. They relied on empirical
studies that cast doubt on the reliability of the justification provided by
Argument from Respondent side
The Respondents argued that these tests had to be used in order to gather
information that would help the investigative authorities gather evidence and
deter crime. Additionally, they stated that giving the tests did not result in
any physical injury and that the data was only used for research.
for academic purposes only; not for use in court as evidence. The Respondents
argued that these tests had to be used in order to gather information that would
help the investigative authorities gather evidence and deter crime.
Additionally, they stated that giving the tests did not result in any physical
injury and that the data was only used for research.
For academic purposes only; not for use in court as evidence.
The Court began by carefully reviewing how the contested law developed and its
specific applications , methods and how the criminal justice system and
international law use them precedents relating to their use, as well as their
restrictions. In considering the right against self-incrimination, the Court
came to the conclusion that to be forced to participate in neuro-scientific
tests would violate Article 20's ban on testimonial coercion. regarding
The Court determined that before such neuroscientific tests could be conducted
freely, the requirement of "substantive due process" would also need to be
satisfied in addition to the requirements of Article 20(3).
The court ruled that unintentionally made comments had a higher likelihood of
being untrue.The person's integrity and dignity were violated, thus the right
against self incrimination was meant to ensure that testimony considered during
trial was reliable.
According to the Court, "most states as well as international human rights
agreements have recognised the link between the 'right against
self-incrimination' and the 'right to fair trial'." Maneka Gandhi v. Union of
((1978) 1 SCC 248) held that the right against self-incrimination
should be interpreted with due consideration for the interrelationship between
rights, in particular the various dimensions of the right to personal
privacy.such as substantive due process and the right to a fair trial.
The Court also upheld the decision made by M.P. In the case of Sharma v.
(1954 SCR 1077),concluded that Article 20's guarantee against
testimonial coercion applied to everyone who was the subject of an accusation
that could lead to prosecution (3).
It was made clear that the privilege against self-incrimination applies to
everyone, including those who have been formally charged, those who are
questioned as suspects in criminal cases, and witnesses who are concerned that
their answers might lead to criminal charges in a current investigation or even
in cases unrelated to the one being investigated. The Court took additional
notice of the MP. Sharma argued that being a witness applied to all
voluntary activities, not just those involving oral testimony. The Court also
took into account the standard established in State of Bombay vs. Kathi Kalu
Oghad & Others
( 3 SCR 10), which suggested that "imparting knowledge
in respect of relevant fact by means of oral statements or statements in
writing, by a person who has personal knowledge of the facts to be communicated
to a court or to a person holding an enquiry or investigation," would affect the
right under Article 20. (3). The court ultimately decided that the outcomes of
the involuntary use of neuroscientific methods would constitute testimonial
reactions for the purpose of invoking the right under 20(3) of Indian
The Court determined that while laws of evidence could be used in cases
involving privacy issues in specific matters. They couldn't serve as the basis
for ordering a person to give up their privacy because of physical invasion. "To
impart personal information of a major fact" through a person The Court thought
about how rights interrelate in order to perceive the abolition of
self-incrimination as a component of "personal liberty" according per Article
It was therefore underlined that Article 20(3) and the right to privacy would
also come into play. Disagreement, especially in relation to a person's autonomy
to speak or remain silent. The Court ruled that it would be against one's right
to privacy to use such techniques against their will.
The Court noted in tracing the development of the right to privacy that the
Indian Constitution does not expressly include a "right to privacy" in a manner
comparable to the Fourth Amendment of the United States. Starting with the MP
Sharma case. Search for evidence of theft and embezzlement .Papers were given
warrants, which established their validity.
State of Uttar Pradesh v. Kharak Singh
(AIR 1963 SC 1295), a case in which
the Court discussed the legitimacy of police laws enabling the authorities to
track down "history-sheeters" on a list and conduct surveillance on them, etc.
Arguments were put forward.
Other significant cases that contributed to the development of the right to
privacy were also taken into consideration by the court, including People's
Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India and Govind v. State of Madhya
(1975) 2 SCC 148, R. Govind v. State of Madhya Pradesh
Raj Gopal v. State of Tamil Nadu
(1994) 6 SCC 632 148 in Pradesh (1975) 2
SCC. (AIR 1997 SC 568).
The Court took up the Sharda v. Dharampal case
(2003) 4 SCC 493) as it
considered privacy rights. In this instance, a civil court was allowed to compel
an examination by a doctor who was considered necessary for figuring out which
party is mentally unstable. The Sharda v. Dharampal case
a person's right to privacy could be limited in the face of conflicting
interests in addition to examining the aforementioned precedents.
The court did not examine Article 20(3) of the Constitution because Sharda v.
was a civil matter; instead, it concentrated on the distinction
between testimonial acts and tangible evidence. This is based on current
circumstances. The Court concluded that although the fundamental goal of the
concept of privacy was to shield one's body and geographic locations from
invasive state acts, the right to privacy should also take into account how
Article 20 may be impacted (3).
It was decided that subjecting an individual to the disputed practises was an
infringement on their right to privacy. Additionally, it was determined that
utilising such tests against even if a person were not accused of a crime, their
will would still be in violation of their Article 21 right to liberty
humiliating and brutal treatment.
The Court ruled that no tests could be carried out without the accused's
consent, which had to be obtained in front of a judicial magistrate and in the
presence of the accused's attorney. The statement would not have the status of a
confessional statement but rather would have the status of a statement made to
the police. The exam would be administered by an impartial organisation, in the
presence of a lawyer, and properly documented.
This case sheds new light on mental privacy while addressing an important issue
of coerced testimony. The decision made in the case alters the methods of
investigation and extends the scope of protection from self-incrimination to
include not only persons suspected and accused but also those who are not
present in court as witnesses.
It is now required, as a result of this case, to obtain the subject's agreement
before administering any further scientific tests and to inform them of the
test's methodology and potential outcomes. becoming a famous instance in the
development of article 20.
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Amar Nagsen
Authentication No: SP226022398959-17-0922