Chequered history of narco test in India: The famous cases that were solved and not solved

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Although not regarded as totally reliable, a host of law enforcement agencies around the world use the narco-analysis test or narco test during their investigations as they feel that this method allows them to extract true answers from their subjects Image Courtesy PTI

New Delhi: Narco-analysis test or narco test is the process of injecting suspects or witnesses in criminal cases with certain substances in order to extract crucial information which they may have concealed from investigators.

Although not regarded as totally reliable, a host of law enforcement agencies around the world use the narco-analysis test or narco test during their investigations as they feel that this method allows them to extract true answers from their subjects.

The murder of Delhi girl Shraddha Walker by her alleged boyfriend Aftab Amin Poonawala has again brought the issue of narco-analysis test or narco test into the limelight.

What is a narco test?

The substance which is used to conduct a narco test is sodium pentothal, widely known as the ‘truth serum’. During a narco test, this substance is injected into the subject’s body.

The ‘truth serum’ reportedly induces the person injected into a hypnotic state and lowers his self-consciousness, thus enabling him to speak freely without any inhibition.

How is narco test performed?

Narco tests are performed under the supervision of a psychologist along with an investigating officer or a forensic expert.

As narco tests may cause serious health implications, subjects have to undergo a general medical examination to check their condition before being injected with the ‘truth serum’.

The dosage of sodium pentothal administered during narco tests varies according to the subject’s age, sex and existing medical conditions they may have. Getting this wrong can lead to dire medical emergencies. Hence, precautions are taken while performing the test.

Subjects are nearly sedated by this drug and reach a semi-conscious state and can answer specific questions.

This test is performed under the guidance and supervision of a psychologist, an investigating officer, or a forensic expert.

Does Indian law permit narco test?

The Supreme Court had earlier ruled that truth-finding tests such as narco tests, polygraph or brain mapping cannot be conducted. However, the Supreme Court had allowed the use of these methods during the investigstion process in some criminal cases.

However, these tests were performed only after obtaining consent from the subjects and with precautionary measures in place.

On the basis of Article 20 of the Indian Constitution, no criminal can be compelled to testify himself. If this happens then the court does not accept it. In this condition only techniques like narco test, brain mapping and lie detectors etc can be effective. Narco test is used by the police when a criminal is not telling the truth.

Let us look at some of the high-profile narco tests conducted in India.

26/11 convict Ajmal Kasab

Perhaps the most successful narco test in India was the one conducted on Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab, who was involved in the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai.

Although Ajmal Kasab had already provided investigators with a detailed account of the 26/11 plan hatched by the Pakistan Army and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the crime branch of the Mumbai Police felt that a narco test was needed to glean crucial information that may have been concealed by the captured terrorist.

The narco test on Ajmal Kasab proved to be a resounding success as it revealed valuable information on how the Pakistan Army and various terrorist groups it supports use madrasas to spread false propaganda and brainwash their citizens with the poison of Islamic jihad.

Dawood Ibrahim aide Abu Salem

Mumbai gangster Abu Salem had come up with several crucial revelations regarding the Mumbai underworld and Bollywood during his narco-analysis test in 2007.

2002 Godhra riots

Narco test in India was first conducted during the investigations into the Godhra incident of 2002 which had shaken the entire country. Narco tests were conducted on several prime accused including Bilal Haji, Kasim Abdul Sattar, Abdul Razzaq, Anwar Mohammad and Irfan Siraj.

2007 Hyderabad twin blasts

Narco tests were also conducted on Abdul Kalim and Imran Khan, the accused in the two bomb blasts in Hyderabad in 2007. In these bomb blasts, 42 people were killed and more than 50 were injured.

Aarushi Talwar murder case

In the year 2008, during investigations into the Aarushi Talwar murder case in Noida, narco tests were conducted on three suspects who were employees of the victim’s father Rajesh Talwar – Krishna, Rajkumar and Vijay Mandal.

Narco tests conducted on Nupur and Rajesh Talwar – the parents of Aarushi – also failed to obtain any concrete leads which could help investigators solve the murder case of the teenage girl.

With the narco tests not able to establish any genuine conclusions, the Allahabad High Court had acquitting the Talwars of murder charges on October 12, 2008.

Abdul Karim Telgi fake stamp paper scam

The fake stamp paper scam had created a storm in Maharashtra politics after main accused Abdul Karim Telgi named NCP chief Sharad Pawar and former Maharashtra deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal during a narco test. During the narco test, Abdul Karim Telgi had claimed that he had paid money to the two high-profile politicians.

However, the narco test results became redundant when Abdul Karim Telgi recorded his statement before a chief judicial magistrate, in which he did not mention either Pawar or Bhujbal.

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