Supreme Court Judgment on Polygraph, Narco-Analysis & Brain-Mapping: a Boon or a Bane

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Indian J Med Res 134, July 2011, pp 4-7


Supreme Court judgment on polygraph, narco-analysis & brain-mapping: A boon or a bane

Introduction The deception detection tests (DDT) such as polygraph, narco-analysis and brain-mapping have important clinical, scientific, ethical and legal implications1. The DDTs are useful to know the concealed information related to crime. This information, which is known only to self, is sometimes crucial for criminal investigation2. The DDTs have been used widely by the investigating agencies. However, investigating agencies know that the extracted information cannot be used as evidence during the trial stage. They have contested that it is safer than ‘third degree methods’ used by some investigators. Here, the claim is that, by using these so called, “scientific procedures” in factfinding, it will directly help the investigating agencies to gather evidences, and thereby increase the rate of prosecution of the guilty and the rate of acquittal of the innocent3. Recently, these methods are being promoted as more accurate and best to none, without convincing evidence. In a landmark judgment, the apex court of India has clearly stated that DDTs cannot be administered without consent3. Debate The core debate arising out of the DDT is its legality of using inhuman degrading methods to confess the crime. The interrogation of the accused plays a vital role in collecting evidence. If the accused remains silent and does not answer any questions of the investigating agencies then to what extent the investigating agencies can coerce or force the accused to reveal information. In a civilized world police torture is unacceptable to extract information about the crime. Even in the court of law, confession made to a police officer is not valid. Now, the question is, “Can police use DDT to extract information from the accused”? There are many who support the view that in this age of ever increasing crime rate, such tests often help to the...