Narco Test

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    • It has recently come to spotlight after a Delhi Court ordered a Narco Test for Aaftab Amin Poonawala in the bone-chilling Shradha Walkar killing case.
      • The Court took into consideration international norms on human rights, the right to a fair trial, and the right against self-incrimination under Article 20(3) of the Constitution. 

    What is a Narco Test?

    • In a narco or narco-analysis test: a drug called sodium pentothal is injected into the body of the accused, which transports them to a hypnotic or sedated state, in which their imagination is neutralised. 
      • In this hypnotic state, the accused is understood as being incapable of lying, and is expected to divulge information that is true.
    • Sodium pentothal or sodium thiopental is a fast-acting, short duration anesthetic, which is used in larger doses to sedate patients during surgery.
      • It belongs to the barbiturate class of drugs that act on the central nervous system as depressants.
    • Truth serum: Because the drug is believed to weaken the subject’s resolve to lie, it is sometimes referred to as a truth serum, and is said to have been used by intelligence operatives during World War II.

    What is a Polygraph Test?

    • A test such as this is said to have been first done in the 19th century by the Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso, who used a machine to measure changes in the blood pressure of criminal suspects during interrogation.
    • A polygraph test is based on the assumption that physiological responses that are triggered when a person is lying are different from what they would be otherwise. 
    • A polygraph test does not involve injecting drugs into the body; rather instruments like cardio-cuffs or sensitive electrodes are attached to the suspect, and variables such as blood pressure, pulse rate, respiration, change in sweat gland activity, blood flow, etc., are measured as questions are put to them.
    • A numerical value is assigned to each response to conclude whether the person is telling the truth, is deceiving, or is uncertain.

    What is the need of such a test?

    • Investigating agencies have sought to employ these tests in investigation, which are sometimes seen as being a softer alternative to torture or third degree to extract the truth from suspects.
    • However, neither method has been proven scientifically to have a 100% success rate, and remain contentious in the medical field as well.

    Related Case and Guidelines

    • Selvi & Ors vs State of Karnataka & Anr’ (2010)
      • A Supreme Court Bench ruled that no lie detector tests should be administered except on the basis of consent of the accused.
    • Guidelines for the Administration of Polygraph Test on an Accused
      • It was published by the National Human Rights Commission in 2000 which says that the subject’s consent should be recorded before a judicial magistrate. 

    Can the results of these tests be considered as “confessions”?

    • No it cannot be considered as a confession because those in a drugged-induced state cannot exercise a choice in answering questions that are put to them.
    • However, any information or material subsequently discovered with the help of such a voluntarily-taken test can be admitted as evidence.

    Source: IE