Court puts curbs on narco tests

Court puts curbs on narco tests

A bench of Chief Justice of India K  G Balakrishnan, Justices R V Raveendran and J M Panchal said: “We hold that no individual should be forcibly subjected to any of the techniques in question, whether in the context of investigation in criminal cases or otherwise. Doing so would amount to an unwarranted intrusion into personal liberty.’’

Deciding on a bunch of petitions, including one challenging a Karnataka High Court judgment filed by Selvi Murugesan, a Tamil Nadu MLA, the bench said: “However, we do leave room for the voluntary administration of the impugned techniques in the context of criminal justice, provided that certain safeguards are in place.’’

While doing tests such as  narco-analysis, brain-mapping and polygraph tests, prosecuting agencies were allowed to use drugs like sodium pentothal, an anesthetic, to send people into a semi-conscious state while forensic psychologists question them. In recent times, such narco-tests were conducted on stamp scam accused A R Telgi and Mumbai serial blasts accused Abu Salem, who was extradited from Portugal.

The apex court also clarified that even though the suspect had given consent to undergo any of these tests, the results by themselves could not be admitted as evidence because the subject did not exercise conscious control over the responses during the administration of the test.    

Selvi Murugesan and her husband T A Murugesan had challenged the order of the high court that permitted the police to conduct a narco-analysis test on him during the investigation of a murder case.

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