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Use Of Narco-Analysis Results As Evidence: Selvi V State Of Karnataka

The term 'Narcotics' is defined as a drug or other substances that affects mood or behavior and relieves pain. It's usually given as an injection which leads to drowsiness, sedation etc. Physician also prescribes narcotics before any operation to lessen the anxiety of the patient and is given in the form of anesthesia. It is used medically to relieve the pain but it is also used for illegal purposes.

Narco Analysis is derived from the Greek work narkc (meaning "anesthesia"), it uses psychotropic drugs to describe a diagnostic technique. Narco analysis poses several questions at the intersection of law, medicine and ethics.

Narco Analysis in India

Narco Analysis test have been in use since 1992 and India still continues to use this test in confession of crimes. It is the test which is not openly practiced or permitted for investigation purposes in different countries. Narco analysis test first came into picture in the case of Godhra incident in 2002. This test, relieves the investigators off their interrogation skills and they investigate through short cut methods.

It is held valid and legal by number of courts because it is of the view that a patient under the influence of a drug (Sodium Pentothal) cannot create a lie and there is no power to think or reason. It was used in Hyderabad Bomb Blast case, in Abu Salem case etc.

Narco analysis on the other hand is not 100% accurate and certain subjects are totally false. In such cases, it is very difficult to suggest the correct dose of a drug for particular person. We can say it is basically a restoration of memory which the suspect or the accused has forgotten. It is used by the investigating officers so that the suspects can confess their crimes when they are in an unconscious state of mind which they were not accepting when they were mentally fit and in their complete senses.

Is It Admissible As An Evidence?

As the test is done when a suspect or an accused is in his semi-conscious state where he has no control over his doing or the power of imagining, because of this it is not admissible in the court. Narco analysis test like Brain mapping, lie detector test can be used as corroborative evidence which will support the main evidence but cannot be solely dealt as sole basis of conviction.

The reports from these tests have some validity but they are not totally real and accurate. It is proved by the circumstances in which it is obtained. It is skeptical as to whether it is the correct administration of drug on the witness to discover the exact truth or not. The court made it admissible in the criminal cases because with the change in time the accused are getting advanced and they are committing crime with advanced techniques, so the court was of the view that it has become an important tool in detecting the crime.

The Bombay High Court, in a significant verdict in the case of Ramchandra Reddy and Others v State of Maharashtra, upheld the legality of the use of P300 or Brain Mapping and narco analysis test. The court also said that evidence procured under the effect of narco analysis test is also admissible. The admissibility is dependent upon the various factors such as whether the court has permitted for conducting the test or not. It does not become admissible if the consent of the court is not present.

Ways Of Narcotics Test:

The Whole Process Can Be Divided Into Four Stages:
  1. The interview:
    It is held before the test begins where the accused is provided with all the information regarding the procedure of the test and consent is being taken voluntarily
  2. Pre-narcotics stage:
    In this stage there is an intervention of sodium pentothal to hypnotize the accused. The percentage of the drugs injected into the accused is 5-10%
  3. Semi narcotics stage:
    The expert conducts an interview when the accused is slowly down in the pace of speech. After its done, he is allowed to sleep once the examination is done.
  4. Post interview stage- The memory of the accused is examined by the physician.

Types Of Drug Tests Will Include:

  1. Blood test:
    It's the most effective test at detecting the specific alcohol levels. In this, it reduces the tampering the samples.
  2. Polygraph test:
    In this physical indices are measured and recorded by a series of questions asked to the accused. It is also known as lie detector test.

Art 20(3): Right To Self-Incrimination

The test is used by the investigating officers for getting answers to their questions which the accused id denying to give in a conscious state of mind. It basically prevents the third degree treatment on the accused and is termed to be as the effective alternative method of getting evidence or required information regarding particular case. However, due care must be taken by the officer and there should be no tampering or misuse of evidence by the officer.

There is no violation of self- incrimination where due to this test, the investigating agency finds any clues which will help the investigation further. In the case of Dharampal v State, it was clearly stated by the supreme court that the criminal justice system cannot act properly if the person living in the society would not be supportive. so, every individual must support the state in bringing criminal justice and detecting the crime. It must be acknowledged that no one can withhold criminal information and escape from social responsibility by avoiding disclosing such information in the name of the right to privacy which itself is not an absolute right[1].

The test should be done after taking the consent of the accused, if the consent is not voluntarily taken then Self- incrimination Art 20(3) will be applicable. There should be no miscarriage of Justice.

Selvi v/s State Of Karnataka

In this case SC held that the consent of the accused plays a vital role in conducting a narco-analysis test, if there was no consent then it will violate the Article 20(3). It also said that the test should be conduct in front of the experts. The information or the clues given by the accused in the sub conscious state could not be treated as a final evidence as he was not having any control over the responses. The information given by him will be corroborated by other evidences and then only can be make admissible in the court under section 27 of Indian Evidence Act. Any substantial information would be applicable and admissible under this section.

This case emphasizes on major legal issues such as privacy or personal liberty, self- incrimination and substantive due process. It was held in this case that involuntary administration of these tests would amount to be corruptive as it violated Article 20(3). It was questioned in the court that how will these tests prove credibility and be reliable. All these tests can dishonestly involve a subject on account of the subject's earlier introduction to test stimuli, like through media reports etc.

In today's era, criminals are becoming smart than ever, they are using such techniques which are beyond the scope of investigation.

Narco-analysis test helped in some cases as there was consent and no harm was done to mind and body used in any manner. It gives related information which can be used further in the case. The evidentiary value of this test plays a crucial role in investigation.

The test results may be doubtful because it's the restoration of the accused's memory which he has forgotten, it can be used as a confession of crime but not as an substantial evidence. It is not always 100% accurate.

The test should be in accordance with the scope of Article 20(3), so that it will not be violated and held unconstitutional. The Central government must make a clear policy stand on narco analysis because what is at stake is India's commitment to individual freedoms and a clean criminal justice system[2]

  2. sonakshi_verma.pdf

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