Tuesday, May 4, 2010

SC Holds Narcoanalysis, Brainmapping Tests Unconstitutional

In a major blow to investigating agencies, the Supreme Court on Wednesday declared as "illegal" use of narcoanalysis, brainmapping and polygraph tests on suspects. Narco, polygraph or brainmapping tests cannot be conducted on any person, whether an accused or a suspect, without their consent, the SC’s judgement said. "We are of the considered opinion that no individual can be forced and subjected to such techniques involuntarily, and by doing so it amounts to unwarranted intrusion of personal liberty," a bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said. The apex court said that involuntarily subjecting an accused, a suspect or a witness to such techniques violates Article 20 (3) of the Constitution, which prohibits self-incrimination. Forcing an individual to such methods of investigation violates the scheme of legal process, it said, adding that even if such tests are taken voluntarily then also results cannot be used as evidence unless corroborated by other evidence. However, the bench also comprising Justices R V Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari said if anything obtained by the investigators from such techniques in which a person had volunteered, the agencies can use them for further probe. The court further observed that in conducting the polygraphy test, the investigating agencies have to follow strictly the guidelines laid down by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). The apex court had on January 25, 2008 reserved its order on a batch of petitions challenging investigation techniques like brain mapping, lie detection and narcoanalysis as being illegal and unconstitutional, especially in cases where accused are opposed to them. The judgement assumes significance as the investigating agencies have been using narcoanalysis, brain-mapping and polygraph tests in a number of high-profile cases involving fake stamp paper kingpin Abdul Karim Telgi, Nithari killings accused, Arushi murder case suspects as well as parents of the teenager.