Narco Test : the controversy continues

Narco Analysis Test or Narco Test: This refers to the practice of administering barbiturates or certain other chemical substances, most often Pentothal Sodium, to lower a subject’s inhibitions, in the hope that the subject will more freely share information and feelings. The term Narco Analysis was coined by Horseley. Narco analysis first reached the mainstream in 1922, when Robert House, a Texas obstetrician used the drug scopolamine on two prisoners. Since then narco testing has become largely discredited in most democratic states, including the United States and Britain.

Recently , a plea was made in Supreme Court to ban this method, as it is a violation of basic human rights . The Supreme court refused to entertain this petition . The petition was filed by All India Lawyers Joint Action Committee, an unregistered body of lawyers.

Amicus curiae and senior counsel Dushyant Dave said
: “There does not appear to be any legal system in the world, which has either allowed or considered admissible the evidence collected with the help of any one or all of the tests….While on the one hand, constitutional embargo is omni-present, the existing statutes, including the Cr.P.C. and the Indian Evidence Act, do not expressly authorise collection of evidence through process, during which the accused may be compelled to be a witness against himself. Clearly there is no backing in law for the police to collect such evidence through these tests nor has there been any power in the courts to authorise the police to do so…Such tests can only be done by legislation, which may authorise the same as under TADA. To allow adoption of any of the three tests in investigations involving day to day crimes would negate the very values for which the society stands and the Constitution affirms.

Earlier , the Madras High Court ruled that narco analysis testimony was not by compulsion because the accused may be taken to the laboratory for such tests against his will, but the revelation during such tests is quite voluntary. The High Court was convinced that it was possible to compel one to testify voluntarily. The reasoning does not stand up to comparison with a witness being tortured or threatened to testify in court. If this is not voluntary, how could testimony under the influence of drugs, when even ones volition is suspended, be voluntary? The decision of the High Court clearly acknowledges that the person in question is taken to the laboratory against his will.

Inspite of all these , Narco Analysis still isnt a foolproof method to base our conclusions .

In 1989, the New Jersey Supreme Court  prohibited the use of sodium amytal narco analysis because the results of the interview were not considered scientifically reliable.

Gallery (source : The Hindu):

Abdul Karim Telgi, the kingpin of the stamp paper scam, being brought to a Bangalore court in 2003. Telgi underwent narcoanalysis in Bangalore.

Abdul Karim Telgi, the kingpin of the stamp paper scam, being brought to a Bangalore court in 2003. Telgi underwent narcoanalysis in Bangalore.

Abu Salem (right), one of the accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts case and a close associate of the underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, after a narcoanalysis test at Bowring Hospital, Bangalore, in December 2005.

Abu Salem (right), one of the accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts case and a close associate of the underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, after a narcoanalysis test at Bowring Hospital, Bangalore, in December 2005.

Suspected terrorist Imran alias Bilal being taken to Bowring Hospital, Bangalore, for a second narcoanalysis test, in January 2007.

Suspected terrorist Imran alias Bilal being taken to Bowring Hospital, Bangalore, for a second narcoanalysis test, in January 2007.

Additional Readings :

source : The Hindu , http://www.indialaws.info

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