15 April 2015

Is Narco-Analysis Test a compelled testimony?

Authored by Sumeir Ahuja 

Ajmal Amir Kasab, the only terrorist in the November 26 Mumbai terror strike to be captured alive, was subjected to a narco analysis test to corroborate all that he had confessed and to get more information about the conspiracy.
The two main accused in the Nithari serial killings Mohinder Singh Pandher and Surendra Kohli underwent the narco analysis tests in Gandhinagar in Gujarat.

Most of us have heard about the narco analysis test but don’t really know what it is. So in this article I will answer two main questions:

1.       What exactly are these tests and how do they help investigators?

2.      And more importantly are the results of these tests admissible in court?

The Science behind Narco-Analysis[1]

The narco analysis test is conducted by mixing 3 grams of Sodium Pentothal or Sodium Amytal dissolved in 3000 ml of distilled water. This test involves the intravenous administration of this drug, which causes the subject to enter into various stages of anesthesia. In the hypnotic stage, the subject becomes less inhibited and is more likely to divulge information, which would usually not be revealed in the conscious state. He or she may also divulge all his/her fantasies, personal wishes, impulses, instinctual drive, illusions, delusions, conflicts, misinterpretations, etc.[2]
A person is able to lie by using his imagination. The narco analysis test interferes with his nervous system at the molecular level. In this state, it becomes difficult though not impossible for him to lie. In such a sleep-like state efforts are made to obtain "probative truth" about the crime. Experts inject a subject with hypnotics like Sodium Pentothal or Sodium Amytal under the controlled circumstances of the laboratory. The dose is dependent on the person's sex, age, health and physical condition.

Validity of the test[3]

 Narco analysis is one such scientific form of investigation in which a statement from the accused is acquired, which might form evidence. The Evidence Act is silent regarding the employment of such scientific processes. Such process has often been criticized as against the tenets of Constitution and on the other hand has been upheld as a necessity to evaluate some complicated issues.

The right against self-incrimination, widely known as the Right to Silence is mentioned in the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Indian Constitution. In the CrPC, the legislature has guarded a citizen’s right against self-incrimination. S.161 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure states that every person “is bound to answer truthfully all questions, put to him by [a police] officer, other than questions the answers to which, would have a tendency to expose that person to a criminal charge, penalty or forfeiture”.

The use of this test has legal mandate under Section 53 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which lists a host of various modern techniques like DNA fingerprinting and collection of blood samples as perfectly legal tools to probe a crime. The term 'such other tests' occurring in the explanatory note of the Section 53 makes the narco analysis test legal in India.

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