The Supreme Court today ruled that narco-analysis, brain mapping and polygraph tests carried out on suspects by investigative agencies for interrogation was unconstitutional.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan gave its verdict today, saying that narco-analysis is a violation of the fundamental right under Article 20(3) of the Constitution that specifies that no person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. The SC stated that the test must not be taken without the consent of the suspect.
The court further ruled that the results of these tests are unreliable, and may not be admissable in court as evidence.
In defense, the CBI and the Centre tried to justify the use of these tests saying that they helped deal with organised crime and terrorism, and crack complicated cases.
In a narco test, the accused is injected with 'truth serums' that cause the person to become uninhibited and talkative. It is still possible for people to lie under the influence of truth serums, so it is not altogether reliable.
While Sodium Pentothal - which sedates only for a few minutes - is used for these tests, drugs like Sodium Amytal and Scopolamine are also used. The results of these tests do not have any legal validity as confessions, and the court may give limited admissibility depending on the case.
According to prevailing medical thoughts, information obtained under the influence of intravenously-administered Sodium Amytal can be unreliable, as subjects may mix fact and fantasy. Skeptics imply that much of the claimed effect of the drug relies on the belief that the subject cannot tell a lie while being under the drug's influence. Some observers also feel that the drug does not increase truth-telling, but merely increases talking; hence, both truth and its fabrication are likely to occur.