Over the past years, the forensic science has made important discoveries and developments as scientific evidence in criminal case proceeding. The two important wings of forensic science are highlighted through the DNA testing and Narco-Analysis. Generally, the result of the forensic science is admissible in court and plays a valuable role to court in pronouncing the verdict.
FORENSIC SCIENCE AND ITS RELEVANCY
Forensic science can be said as application of science to the legal matters such as physics, chemistry, computer science, biologyas well as engineering. Forensic science can help investigators to know that how blood splash patterns occur (physics), learn the source of evidence such as drugs and trace materials (chemistry) or can also determine the identity of an undisclosed suspect (biology).
Forensic science plays a vital role in the criminal justice mechanism by providing scientifically proven evidences through the analysis of physical or medical evidence. During an investigation, evidences are collected from the crime scene or from the suspects, then they are analyzed in a forensic laboratory and then the results or reports are presented in Court. As we know that each crime scene is unique from the other and each case has its own challenges, in these situations, forensic or medical evidences play a great role.
DNA is the material found in cells that determines characteristics such as eye, hair, and skin color. Each person’s DNA is different, except in the case of identical twins. This means that DNA is the key for error-free identification of criminal, similar to this; finger prints are also used as they are also unique with every person, even in the case of identical twins. DNA evidence can be taken from blood, saliva, sweat, urine, skin tissue, semen, etc.
The result of a DNA test accurately identifies the individual. As a result, there are uncountable criminal cases which are solved by placing the subject at the crime scene. First, forensic investigators get samples of blood, hair or tissue from the crime scene. Secondly, laboratory technicians can easily verify the identity of the person who is involved in the crime. When presented in a Court of law, the result of a DNA test is generally accepted as a fact. From that result, the judiciary and police system will rely on the credibility and power of DNA fingerprinting to obtain a verdict.
Role in Identifying the Paternity of the Child
Section 112 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 talks about the ‘paternity of the child’. It provides that any child who is born during the continuance of the valid marriage between his mother and any man, or within 280 days of the dissolution of the marriage provided only when the mother remains unmarried, will be considered as the Conclusive Proof that he is the legitimate child of the man. And there is only one way to disprove the paternity of the child, i.e. by proving non-access to each other.
In Goutam Kundu v. State of West Bengal, the Court held that the only way to rebut presumption under Section 112 is by way of proving non-access. Biometric tests like Blood test and DNA test cannot be allowed if parties do not wish as they have right to privacy.
It was held in the case of Nandlal Wasudeo Badwaik v. Lata Wasudeo Badwaik, that “Section 112 of Evidence Act was enacted at time where the modern scientific advancement and DNA test were not even in contemplation of the legislature. The result of DNA test isscientifically accurate or error-free. The presumption is now rebuttable through DNA test. Where there is a conflict between the conclusive proof envisages under law and a proof based on scientific advancement accepted by the world community to be correct, the latter must prevail over the former.”
This was the case in which the admissibility of the DNA test was ensured as an evidence to determine the paternity of the child.
Role in Sexual Assault
There are various benefits of having a forensic test in sexual assault-
- Increases likelihood of identifying the perpetrator – Through DNA samples, the DNA profile of the perpetrator can be accurately traced. In cases of rape, the semen samples can be collected and the same can be compared with the suspects to accurately identify the criminal.
- Increases likelihood of holding perpetrators accountable– As DNA Reports hold weight in Court, these are the evidences which can be rebutted as they are scientifically proven. DNA evidence helps the Police to build a stronger case against the perpetrator.
Solving of Rape Case by DNA Evidence
In the case of Santosh Kumar vs. State of NCT of Delhi, rape of the girl was proved bythe medical reports. It was done by matching the samples of semen which were taken from the girl during the medical test and from the undergarments of the boy.
A person lieswith the use of his imagination. In the Narco Analysis Test, the personis injected with the drug to make him semi conscious in order to neutralize his imagination power. In this state, it becomes difficult for the people to make use of his imagination and lie to the questions asked from him. Generally, the imagination of the subject is restricted to the facts which he is actually aware of, the real facts and the advantage of same is taken while doing Narco Analysis.
The drug Sodium Pentothal or Sodium Amytal is used by the experts and is injected in the body of the subject for the same process. The dose is decided on the basis of various factors such as sex, age, health, physical strength and physical condition of the person. But the crucialissue with this process is in case of a wrong or high dose, it can leave many unwanted results such as it can lead to the person into a coma, or even death can be caused.
During this process, the subject is asked simple and direct questions related to the criminal case and his involvement generally, which he is not able to manipulate. Narco-analysis has been the most debated topic amongst the legal fraternity, media and common masses. The Indian Evidence Act is completely silent on this part and does not provide any provision as to the scientific involvement of this kind. This process has usually criticized as it is said that it is against the principles and provisions of the Constitution and on the other hand in some cases Court has even upheld its use where it was of utmost necessity to solve the complicated issue.
When it can be used?
For the purpose of testing, NHRC has made a set of guidelines which specifies that the test should only be administered if the consent of the person on whom the test is proposed to be performed is obtained in the presence of a Magistrate and hence, the police cannot conduct the test by them whenever it deems fit for them.
The test can only be conducted after the detailed medical examination of the subject. If on evaluation, the subject is found medically fit for the procedure being to be performed on him, and then only the test will be conducted, otherwise not. However, it has been argued in various cases that sodium pentathol or sodium amytalis a barbiturate and thus has side effects on the body.
Arguments against giving evidentiary value to Narco-analysis
The Constitution of India protects the right to a person to not to be compelled to be a witness in his own case, and hence, according to the tenets of the Constitution any statement given by the subject during the Narco-analysis test cannot be considered evidence and used against him.
Various studies and research have shown that the subject have has given wrong answers during the test which raises genuine questions on the validity of the Narco-analysis. If complete evidentiary value is given to the outcomes of the test, the police may also harass the innocentsto undergo this test. The basic principle of the Indian legal system is clear and is based on the fact that a person is considered innocent until proven guilty that too beyond reasonable doubts and we an innocent cannot be punished even if hundred criminals need to be freed. With this framework in mind compelling a person to undergo this test will be surely be infringement of his fundamental rights which are absolutely negating the principle of a right based society.
Furthermore, relying upon the outcomes of the test is also in conflict with the ‘right to fair trail’. Even, for the public interest it is not justified to let go the constitutional rights such as ‘right against self-incrimination’.
Arguments for giving evidentiary value to Narco-analysis
In United States v. Solomon, the Court discussed the validity ofNarco-analysis in detail. In this case the experts expressed their views before the Court that the serum is generally accepted as an investigative technique. It need not be said that prevention of crime and punishment for the crime are the duties of the State. Fetters on these duties can be put only in extreme cases where the protection of fundamental rights weigh more than the fundamental duty cast on the State moreover every person is required to furnish information regarding offences.
The Bombay High Court, in a landmark verdict in the case of Ramchandra Ram Reddy v. State of Maharashtra, upheld the legal validity of use of narco-analysis test. The Court observed that the results of the narco-analysis test are admissible before the Court of law. As criminals have started using hi-tech techniques like professionals, the use of narco-analysis can be very useful and is important as well, as the conscious mind does not speak out the truth, unconscious may reveal vital information about a case.
It has become a necessity for the State, the Union Government and authorities to work on the capacity of investigating a case. The Indian criminal equity framework has an amazingly low conviction rate and the circumstances should be corrected with accentuation on genuine science and cutting edge innovation. The Central Government must make a policy arrangement on narco-examination.
- Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
- Nandlal Wasudeo Badwaik v. Lata Wasudeo Badwaik, (2014) 2 SCC 576.
- Santosh Kumar vs. State of NCT of Delhi, CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 87 OF 2007, Decided on October 6, 2010.
- Gautam Kundu v. State of West Bengal, AIR 1993 SC 2295.
- Ramchandra Ram Reddy v. State of Maharashtra, 05 March, 2004.
- United States v. Solomon, 509 F.2d 863.