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Selvi v State of Karnataka

Selvi v State of Karnataka

By Sravani




In recent days, law along with science and the fast growing technology has got the most relevance in our everyday life. Technology intervenes with the legal rights and is checked by law and in the same manner, it tends to protect the rights and helps to strengthen the evidences through scientific means and this fact can never be denied by any of us.

Presently, the legal ambit seems to have good advancements and at the same time the criminals have become smart enough to tamper or erase all the evidences that are likely to prove their involvement with the crime. In recent times, a few of such scientific medical procedures are named as highly sophisticated yet simple and civilized way of conducting the investigation. Narco-analysis, Polygraphy, Brain mapping tests and lie detection tests are a few of them.


Having this as our subjective highlight of this article I would like to draw your interest towards one particular case Selvi vs State of Karnataka to discuss about the desirability of efficient investigation and individual liberties.

The application of science and technology in the Criminal Investigation:

The need for adding up the application of advanced scientific techniques has become an important requirement these days. The ultimate goal of law is to resolve human conflict, achieve truth and justice. For this as a purpose, the legal systems might venture to use different methods to achieve all the desired goals. The sphere of the truth is always within the context of legal situation and the science is involved for the same reason in order to resolve the conflicting claims.

One such reliable way of finding the truth is by application of science and technology. Today, the society has proven itself the fast pacing one by creating, improvising and bringing in precise and accurate techniques. The utility of forensic science in the areas of law has made both positive and negative strides over the few developing years.


The justification of Deception Detecting test in India:

Over a few years, the most frequently debated question in courts on India is the accuracy and validity of the Deception Detective test. The main argument will be against the medical procedures that violates the fundamental rights under Article 20(3) as well as Article 21 of The Indian Constitution. At the same time, the revelations made by the infamous Narco Analysis were found to be very useful in solving the cases of national importance such as the Mumbai Serial Train blasts, The Hyderabad twin blasts and in several other international ramifications too.

Violation of Individual rights:

It is always strongly presumed that, if the involved party is not willing to consent to participate for the tests, he /she is might have a committed or definite involvement to the offence. There is a bitter existence of certain outcomes that are completely unconstitutional and unethical. Few such rights that are directly affected on the grounds of violation are

1.     The right to be silent

2.     The right to self-incrimination

3.     The right to health

4.     The right to individual privacy

5.     The right to personal liberty

According to various surveys that had been taken to prove the constitutional provisions being followed in countries like India, USA and Canada it is widely understood that the courts at all levels have needed the prosecution to prove the guilty party beyond all reasonable doubts and that there should be no encroachment even during the stage of immediate interrogations and at the same time of trial.

The Indian constitution guarantees the right against self-incrimination to every person under Article 20(3) i.e., “No person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself”.

The doctrine of Indian law is this that is considered very much established “Every accused person is assumed to be innocent until he/she is proven completely guilty with evidence beyond all reasonable doubts and it is the sole responsibility of the prosecution to prove the guilt. Meanwhile, amidst the process either party who is involved in the case, primarily the accused cannot be made obliged or forced to make a self-incriminating statement.

According to a layman dictionary, the term ‘Self-Incrimination’ is the strong act of accusing oneself to have committed a crime for which they can be prosecuted.

It is a widely known fact that the Right to Silence has been granted to the accused in the final judgement given by the Honorable Supreme court of India in the case of Nandini Satpathy vs P.L. Dani. It is held that “no one can forcibly extract statements from the accused, who has the right to keep silent during the course of investigation or trial”.  The administration of the tests, the pressured intrusions into the mind of the accused is considered nullifying the legitimacy and validity of Right to Silence. The courts get under pressure to consider such results because it is believed that the accused speaks garbled, talks about fantasies under the delusions effect and influence of the drug.

 In this particular case Selvi vs State of Karnataka the Supreme court strictly questioned the use of scientific medical procedures like Narco-analysis, Polygraphy on the accused, suspects and the witnesses about their consent. This was declared as an unconstitutional act and direct violation of the “Right to Privacy”.


1.     First and foremost, to ultimately reach justice,

2.     To secure Public Interest.

When we raise a question about serving the society and protecting the citizens, it is to be clearly understood that the society is the utmost important integral part of the nation and it has the right to be completely given protection, especially against the wrongdoers/criminals. It is believed that the rights and claims of the society bear greater value than that of the criminal. The saddening irony about our present legal theories and jurisprudence is that all the rights of the accused while there is no one to feel responsible to defend the causes of public and their interest. At a larger scale, we need to understand that we make use of medical procedures in order to safeguard the interest and individual freedom of the rights of the accused. The existing criminal frameworks is so much obsessed with the individual liberty and the freedom but sometimes it leads to the dilution of violence.


This particular article thus providing a precise review of current policies and frameworks. The criminal justice system in our country has to be just and equitable on all principles. It has to be understood that these medical procedures have its own purpose and cannot be negatively received, but yet they have their own controversial along with concerns.
The developments in the advancement of technology has to be justifiability utilized. These should be used only with the aim of making the interrogation processes effective and efficient in the justice system. It is important that in exceptional cases, societal interest should be considered over individual interest. Without any delay, let’s dream of a society that is crime-free and clear the differences between individual liberty and serve public interest as well.










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