The chilling Shradha Walkar killing case, in which a Delhi Court ordered a narco test for Aftab Amin Poonawala, has drawn attention to the use of the specialised examination as a cutting-edge tool for interrogation.
What is narco test
An intravenous injection of a substance (such as sodium pentothal, scopolamine, or sodium amytal) is used in the test to put the subject into various stages of anaesthesia. The term “narco-analysis” comes from the Greek word “narko,” which means “anaesthesia” or “torpor,” and it refers to a psychotherapeutic and diagnostic approach that makes use of psychotropic drugs, particularly barbiturates.
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Narco test norms in India
The individual’s consent is also required by law before a person can undergo a narco test. The Supreme Court had ruled that no one can be subjected to narco analysis, brain mapping, or polygraph tests without that person’s consent. In response to petitions challenging the validity of such tests, the apex court had noted that they are unlawful and a violation of personal freedom.
5 cases where a narco test was conducted previously
1. Godhra case (2002)
In 2002, a narcoanalysis was performed for the first time in the Godhra carnage case. The five defendants who were arrested in the case—Bilal Haji Ismail Sujela, Kasim Abdul Sattar alias Kasam Biryani, Abdul Razzak, Anwar Mohammad Maida, and Irfan Siraj—were given the truth serum.
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2. Aarushi Talwar murder case (2008)
During narco-tests on Aarushi’s parents, Nupur and Rajesh Talwar, the CBI came up empty-handed because it was unable to elicit any specific information that would have assisted detectives in concluding the teen girl’s murder case. While the Talwars had undergone brain mapping and lie detector tests in 2009, the investigation agency had conducted narco tests on the couple and others in 2010. The dentist couple was found guilty of killing their domestic helper Hemraj and their 14-year-old daughter Aarushi on the intervening night of May 15–16, 2008, and was given a life sentence.
3. 26/11 Mumbai terror attack (2008)
Ajmal Kasab, the lone Mumbai terror suspect who had been apprehended by police, underwent a narcoanalysis test to confirm everything he had confessed during his interrogation and to learn more about the plot that was being hatched on Pakistani soil. Security agencies conducted the test to separate fact from fiction despite Kasab having provided information about the Mumbai terror attack plan, including information about the training he had received from the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and his family history.
His narcoanalysis test gave him a thorough understanding of LeT’s leaders, including its founder Hafiz Saeed, as well as the propaganda the terror organization used to brainwash poor men and their families to grow its cadre.
4. Abdul Karim Telgi fake stamp paper scam (2003)
Only a few scams have caused such a stir in Maharashtra politics as the stamp paper ring did after its ringleader, Abdul Karim Telgi, claimed during a narco test that NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, then a Union minister, and former state deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal received money from him. The narco test, however, became obsolete after Telgi recorded his statement before a chief judicial magistrate, in which neither Pawar nor Bhujbal were mentioned. Telgi claimed to have made payments to them in the videotape of the 2003 narco-analysis test, which was aired by TV channels in 2006.
5. Kurla rape and murder case (2010)
The test was also taken by Mohammed Ajmeri Sheikh, who was charged with raping and killing a nine-year-old girl in Kurla in 2010.