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India: Compulsory Use of Drugs, Brain-Map Tests Considered Unconstitutional

(May 7, 2010) On May 5, 2010, India's Supreme Court ruled that the compulsory use on suspects of narco-analysis, brain-mapping, and polygraph testing is illegal. The Court declared: “[w]e 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.” (Indian Supreme Court Says Compulsory Use of Drugs, Brain-Mapping Tests Illegal, PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEWS AGENCY, May 5, 2010, World News Connection online subscription database, NewsEdge Document Number 201005051477.1_f28c0035ad4f45a0.) Involuntary subjection of an accused, a suspect, or a witness to the techniques, the Court held, contravenes article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution, against self-incrimination. Although the bench stated that if a suspect voluntarily submits to the tests investigating agencies can use any information obtained from them as the basis for further investigation, the justices held that the test results themselves cannot be admissible evidence. (Id.; Constitution of India (Updated up to 94th Amendment Act) [2006]), India Code Text Base, (last visited May 6, 2010).)

The ruling is significant because India's investigative agencies have used the tests in numerous high-profile cases. The cases have involved for example, Abdul Karim Telgi, kingpin of counterfeit stamp-paper printing and circulation; Abu Salem, an underworld leader and the main person accused in Mumbai's 1993 serial explosions case; suspects in the Aarushi Talwar murder case, as well as the parents of the murdered teenager; and Moninder Singh Pandher, a Punjabi businessman, and his domestic helper Surinder Koli, the accused in the 2006 Nithari serial killings. (, High Profile Suspects Who Underwent Narco Tests, INDO-ASIAN NEWS SERVICE (IANS), May 5, 2010, available at Accidents & Disasters website,