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Selvi and others v State of Karnataka


Supreme Court of India 05 May 2010

Case Analysis
Bench Where Reported
K. G. Balakrishnan, R. V. Raveendran, J. M. Panchal 2010 Indlaw SC 340; 2010 (7) SCC 263; 2010 AIR(SC) 1974; 2010 (5) JT 11; 2010 (4) Scale 690; 2010 (5) SCR 381 Subject: Constitution; Criminal Keywords: Voluntary, Presumption, Fundamental Right, Criminal Case, Commission Of An Offence, Fair Trial, Restraint, Habeas Corpus, Forensic, divorce, Harassment, Criminal Justice System, Registered, Sea Customs Act, Production, Value, Code Of Civil Procedure, 1908, Marriage, Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, Spirit, Constitution Of India, 1950, Drug, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, Limitation, Indian Penal Code, 1860, Indian Evidence Act, 1872, Opportunity, Review, Signature, Expert, Offer, Treatment, Investigating Officer, Restriction, Environment, Search, Reasonable Doubt, Litigation, President, Harm, Reliance, Blood, Chain, Doctor, Abuse, Medical Examination, Lawyer, Attorney, Signatures, Contents, Innocence, Innocent, Memory, Inference, Inquiry, Criminal Justice, Infringement, Proviso, Interrogation, Suspect, Torture, Oath, Prosecutor, Fear, Compelling, Credibility, Field, Freedom, Handwriting, Dealing, Violence, Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, Human Rights, Explain, Identification, Prisoner, Discovery, Criminal Charge, Admissible, Hair, Access, Warrants, Pressure, Employed, History, Prisoners, Transmission, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, Privilege, Continuous, Robbery, Railway Property (Unlawful Possession) Act, 1966, Character, Science, Confinement, Speech, Attack, Judiciary, Doctrine, Inadmissible, Privacy, Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949, Constitution (Forty-Fourth Amendment) Act, 1978, Overruled, Threats, Silence, Induce, Blood Test, Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, Police and Criminal Evidence Act, 1984, Compelled Testimony, Criminology, Employee Polygraph Protection Act, 1998, Sir John Jervis Act, 1848, Treason Act, 1696, Companies Act, 1923, U.S. Constitution, Federal Rules of Evidence, 1975 Summary: Criminal - Constitution - Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, ss. 161(2), 313(3) and 315(1)(b) - Constitution of India, 1950, arts. 19, 20(3), 21 - Fundamental rights - Involuntary administration Narcoanalysis, polygraph examination and the Brain Electrical Activation Profile (BEAP) - Right against self-incrimination - (A) Whether the involuntary administration of the impugned techniques violates the 'right against self-incrimination' enumerated in art. 20(3) of the Constitution? - Held, compulsory administration of the impugned techniques violates the 'right against self-incrimination' This is because the underlying rationale of the said right is to ensure the reliability as well as voluntariness of statements that are admitted as evidence - SC has recognised that the protective scope of art. 20(3) extends to the investigative stage in criminal cases and when r/w. s. 161(2) of the CrPC it protects accused persons, suspects as well as witnesses who are examined during an

Case Digest

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investigation - The test results cannot be admitted in evidence if they have been obtained through the use of compulsion - Article 20(3) protects an individual's choice between speaking and remaining silent, irrespective of whether the subsequent testimony proves to be inculpatory or exculpatory - Article 20(3) aims to prevent the forcible 'conveyance of personal knowledge that is relevant to the facts in issue' - Results obtained from each of the impugned tests bear a 'testimonial' character and they cannot be categorised as material evidence - Hence, involuntarily administration subjecting an accused, a suspect or a witness to such techniques violates art. 20(3) of the Constitution, which prohibits self-incrimination - (B) Whether the investigative use of the impugned techniques creates a likelihood of incrimination for the subject? - Held, statements made in custody are considered to be unreliable unless they have been subjected to cross-examination or judicial scrutiny - The scheme created by CrPC and the Indian Evidence Act also mandates that confessions made before police officers are ordinarily not admissible as evidence and it is only the statements made in the presence of a judicial magistrate which can be given weightage - A confession made by an accused person is irrelevant in a criminal proceeding, if the making of the confession appears to the Court to have been caused by any inducement, threat or promise, having reference to the charge against the accused person - Moreover, Indian law incorporates the 'rule against adverse inferences from silence' which is operative at the trial stage - This position is embodied in a conjunctive reading of art. 20(3) of the Constitution and ss. 161(2), 313(3) and Proviso (b) of s. 315(1) of the CrPC - Gist of this position is that even though an accused is a competent witness in his/her own trial, he/she cannot be compelled to answer questions that could expose him/her to incrimination and the trial judge cannot draw adverse inferences from the refusal to do so - (C) Whether the results derived from the impugned techniques amount to 'testimonial compulsion' thereby attracting the bar of art. 20(3)? - Held, protective scope of art. 20(3) r/w. s. 161(2), CrPC guards against the compulsory extraction of oral testimony, even at the stage of investigation - With respect to the production of documents, the applicability of art. 20(3) is decided by the trial judge but parties are obliged to produce documents in the first place - Compulsory extraction of material (or physical) evidence lies outside the protective scope of art. 20(3) - Furthermore, even testimony in oral or written form can be required under compulsion if it is to be used for the purpose of identification or comparison with materials and information that is already in the possession of investigators Narcoanalysis test includes substantial reliance on verbal statements by the test subject and hence its involuntary administration offends the 'right against self-incrimination' - Results obtained from polygraph examination or a BEAP test are also not in the nature of oral or written statements - Instead, inferences are drawn from the measurement of physiological responses recorded during the performance of these tests - Tests such as polygraph examination and the BEAP test do not involve a 'positive volitional act' on part of the test subject and hence their results should not be treated as testimony - However, this does not entail that the results of these two tests should be likened to physical evidence and thereby excluded from the protective scope of art. 20(3) - Hence, results obtained through the involuntary administration of either of the impugned tests (i.e. the narcoanalysis technique, polygraph examination and the BEAP test) come within the scope of 'testimonial compulsion', thereby attracting the protective shield of art. 20(3) - (D) Whether the involuntary administration of the impugned techniques is a reasonable restriction on 'personal liberty'

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as understood in the context of art. 21 of the Constitution? - Held, subjecting a person to the impugned techniques in an involuntary manner violates the prescribed boundaries of privacy - Forcible interference with a person's mental processes is not provided for under any statute and it most certainly comes into conflict with the 'right against self-incrimination' - One of the main functions of constitutionally prescribed rights is to safeguard the interests of citizens in their interactions with the government - As the guardians of these rights, SC will be failing in its duty if it permits any citizen to be forcibly subjected to the tests in question - Forcing an individual to undergo any of the impugned techniques violates the standard of 'substantive due process' which is required for restraining personal liberty - Such a violation will occur irrespective of whether these techniques are forcibly administered during the course of an investigation or for any other purpose since the test results could also expose a person to adverse consequences of a non-penal nature - The impugned techniques cannot be read into the statutory provisions which enable medical examination during investigation in criminal cases, i.e. the Explanation to ss. 53, 53-A and 54 of the CrPC - It would also amount to 'cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment' with regard to the language of evolving international human rights norms - Furthermore, placing reliance on the results gathered from these techniques comes into conflict with the 'right to fair trial' - Invocations of a compelling public interest cannot justify the dilution of constitutional rights such as the 'right against self-incrimination' - No individual should be forcibly subjected to any of the techniques in question, whether in the context of investigation in criminal cases or otherwise - Doing so would amount to an unwarranted intrusion into personal liberty - Even when the subject has given consent to undergo any of these tests, the test results by themselves cannot be admitted as evidence because the subject does not exercise conscious control over the responses during the administration of the test - However, any information or material that is subsequently discovered with the help of voluntary administered test results can be admitted, in accordance with s. 27 of the Evidence Act, 1872 - National Human Rights Commission had published 'Guidelines for the Administration of Polygraph Test (Lie Detector Test) on an Accused' in 2000 - These guidelines should be strictly adhered to and similar safeguards should be adopted for conducting the 'Narcoanalysis technique' and the 'Brain Electrical Activation Profile' test - Appeal disposed of.

Cases Referred To

Thogorani Alias K. Damayanti v State of Orissa and Others 2004 Indlaw ORI 51, 2004 (110) CRLJ 4003 Sharda v Dharmpal 2003 Indlaw SC 306, 2003 (4) SCC 493, 2003 AIR(SCW) 1950, 2003 AIR(SC) 3450, 2003 (1) DMC 627, 2003 (2) JCC 692, 2003 (3) JT 399, 2003 (2) KLT 243, 2003 (3) Scale 475A, 2003 (3) SLT 1, 2003 (2) Supreme 962 Mr. X v Hospital Z 2002 Indlaw SC 1478, 2003 (1) SCC 500, 2003 AIR(SC) 664, 2003 (1) CPJ 14, 2003 (3) CRJ 535, 2002 (10) JT 214, 2002 (9) Scale 224, 2002 (7) SLT 218, 2003 (1) Supreme 66, 2003 (1) UC 286 Smt. M. Vijaya v The Chairman and Managing Director, Singareni Collieries Company Ltd. and Others. 2001 Indlaw AP 457, 2001 AIR(AP) 502

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Mr 'X' v Hospital 'Z' 1998 Indlaw SC 1218, 1998 (8) SCC 296, 1999 AIR(SC) 495, 1999 (1) CLJ 23, 1998 (7) JT 626, 1998 (6) Scale 230, 1998 (9) SLT 418, 1998 (9) Supreme 220 People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) v Union of India and Another 1996 Indlaw SC 1508, 1997 (1) SCC 301, 1997 AIR(SCW) 113, 1997 AIR(SC) 568, 1996 (4) CCC 277, 1996 (9) Scale 318, 1997 (1) UJ 187 D. K. Basu and another v State of West Bengal and another 1996 Indlaw SC 1546, 1997 SCC(Cr) 92, 1997 (1) SCC 416, 1997 AIR(SCW) 233, 1997 AIR(SC) 610, 1997 (1) AD(SC) 180, 1997 (1) CCR 81, 1996 (4) Crimes 233, 1997 (103) CRLJ 743, 1997 (1) JT 1, 1996 (8) Supreme 581 R. Rajagopal Alias R. R. Gopal and Another v State of Tamil Nadu and Others 1994 Indlaw SC 832, 1994 (6) SCC 632, 1994 AIR(SCW) 4420, 1995 AIR(SC) 264, 1994 (6) JT 514, 1994 (4) Scale 494, 1995 (2) SCJ 86 Balkishan A. Devidayal Etc v State of Maharashtra Etc 1980 Indlaw SC 298, 1980 (4) SCC 600, 1981 SCC(Cr) 62, 1981 AIR(SC) 379, 1980 (17) ACC 300, 1980 (86) CRLJ 1424, 1980 CrLR(SC) 568, 1981 (1) SCR 175 Anil Anantrao Lokhande v State of Maharashtra 1980 Indlaw MUM 3838, 1981 (87) CRLJ 125 Sunil Batra and another v Delhi Administration and Others 1978 Indlaw SC 289, 1978 (4) SCC 494, 1979 SCC(Cr) 155, 1978 AIR(SC) 1675, 1978 (84) CRLJ 1741, 1979 (1) SCR 392 Nandini Satpathy v Dani (P.L.) and Another 1978 Indlaw SC 318, 1978 SCC(Cr) 236, 1978 (2) SCC 424, 1978 AIR(SC) 1025, 1978 (84) CRLJ 968, 1978 CrLR(SC) 195, 1978 (3) SCR 608 Maneka Gandhi v Union of India 1978 Indlaw SC 212, 1978 (1) SCC 248, 1978 AIR(SC) 597, 1978 (84) CRLJ 1797, 1978 (2) SCJ 312, 1978 (2) SCR 621 Ananth Kumar Naik v State of Andhra Pradesh 1977 Indlaw AP 80, 1977 (83) CRLJ 1797 Jamshed v State of Uttar Pradesh 1976 Indlaw ALL 112, 1976 (82) CRLJ 1680 Gobind v State of Madhya Pradesh and Others 1975 Indlaw SC 629, 1975 (2) SCC 148, 1975 SCC(Cr) 468, 1975 AIR(SC) 1378, 1975 (1) ALR 252, 1975 CRLJ 1111, 1975 (3) SCR 946 Rustom Cavasje Cooper and another v Union of India 1970 Indlaw SC 575, 1970 (1) SCC 248, 1970 AIR(SC) 564, 1970 (40) CC 325, 1970 (1) CompLJ 244, 1970 (3) SCR 530

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Romesh Chandra Mehta v State of West Bengal 1968 Indlaw SC 2, 1970 AIR(SC) 940, 1970 (72) BomLR 787, 1970 CRLJ 863, 1999 (110) ELT 324, 1971 (2) SCJ 123, 1969 (2) SCR 461 State v Sheshappa Dudhappa Tambade (Original) 1963 Indlaw MUM 61, 1964 AIR(Bom) 253, 1964 (2) CRLJ 523 Kharak Singh v State of Uttar Pradesh and Others 1962 Indlaw SC 577, 1963 AIR(SC) 1295, 1963 ALJ 711, 1963 (69) CRLJ 329, 1964 (2) SCJ 107, 1964 (1) SCR 332 Senior Electric Inspector and Others v Laxmi Narayan Chopra and Others 1961 Indlaw SC 443, 1962 AIR(SC) 159, 1962 (1) SCJ 593, 1962 (3) SCR 146 State of Bombay v Kathi Kalu Oghad and Others 1961 Indlaw SC 144, 1961 AIR(SC) 1808, 1961 ALJ 936, 1962 (64) BomLR 240, 1961 (67) CRLJ 856, 1962 (3) SCR 10 Raja Narayanlal Bansilal v Maneck Phiroz Mistry and Another 1960 Indlaw SC 224, 1961 AIR(SC) 29, 1960 (30) CC 644, 1961 MLJ 208, 1961 (1) SCJ 353, 1961 (1) SCR 417 Deoman Shamji Patil v State 1958 Indlaw MUM 225, 1959 AIR(Bom) 284 M. P. Sharma and Others v Satish Chandra, District Magistrate, Delhi, and Others 1954 Indlaw SC 154, 1954 AIR(SC) 300, 1954 (60) CRLJ 865, 1978 (2) ELT 287, 1954 (1) MLJ 680, 1954 (56) PunjLR 366, 1954 SCJ 428, 1954 (1) SCR 1077 Bhondar v Emperor 1931 Indlaw CAL 181, 1931 AIR(Cal) 601 Armando Schmerber v California 1966 (384) US 757 Attorney General's Reference (No. 3 of 1999) [2001] 1 All E.R. 577 Brown v Mississippi 1936 (297) US 278 Brown v Walker 1896 (161) US 591 Daubert v Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc. 1993 (509) US 579 Ernesto Miranda v Arizona 1966 (384) US 436 Escobedo v State of Illinois 1964 (378) US 52

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Frye v United States [1923] 54 A.C. 46 Harrington v State (659) N.W.2d 509 Horvath v R 1979 (44) C.C.C. (2d) 385 Ibrahim v R [1914] A.C. 599 Lawrence M. Dugan v Commonwealth of Kentucky 1960 (333) S.W.2d. 755 Lindsey v United States 1952 (56) N.M. 237 Mahipal Maderna v State of Maharashtra 1971 CRLJ 1405 Paul H. Breithaupt v Morris Abram 1957 (352) US 432 People v Jones 1954 (42) Cal. 2d 219 Public Committee Against Torture in Israel v State of Israel 1999 H.C. 5100 R (on the application of S) v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire [2003] 1 All E.R. 148 R v Beland 1987 (36) C.C.C. (3d) 481 Rochin v California 1951 (342) US 166 Rock v Arkansas 1987 (483) US 44 Royal College of Nursing of the U.K. v Dept. of Health and Social Security [1981] 1 All E.R. 545 Samuel Hoffman v United States 1951 (341) US 479 Saunders v United Kingdom (1997) 23 E.H.R.R. 313 Slaughter v Oklahoma 2005 (105) P. 3d 832 State of New Jersey v Daryll Pitts

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1320 NJ 1989 State v Hudson 1926 (314) Mo. 599 State v Levitt 1961 (36) N.J. 266 Townsend v Sain 1963 (372) US 293 United States v Cordoba (104) F.3d 225 United States v Galbreth (Supp908) F. 877 United States v Holt 1910 (218) US 245 United States v.Piccinonna (885) F.2d 1529 United States v Scheffer 1998 (523) US 303 United States v Solomon (753) F.2d 1522 United States v Swanson (572) F.2d 523 Wong Kam-ming v R [1979] 1 All E.R. 939 Woolmington v DPP [1935] A.C. 462

Cases Citing this Case

Asha Tamang v State of West Bengal 2011 Indlaw CAL 788 Hansaben Lalitbhai Rathod v State of Gujarat 2011 Indlaw GUJ 1306 Essar Telecom Infrastructure Private Limited v State of Kerala 2011 Indlaw KER 183, 2011 (2) KLT 516 Mahesh S/o Mahonsing Shribas v State of Maharashtra, through Investigation Officer 2010 Indlaw MUM 794, 2010 AllMR(Cr) 3117

Legislation Cited

Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949 Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949 s. 129A Code of Civil Procedure, 1908

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Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 O. 26 r. 10A Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 s. 75(e) Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 s. 151 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 s. 96 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 s. 342(2) Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 s. 39 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 s. 53 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 s. 53A Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 s. 54 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 s. 156(1) Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 s. 160 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 s. 161(1) Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 s. 161(2) Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 s. 162 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 s. 163 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 s. 164 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 s. 167 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 s. 313(3) Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 s. 315(1) Companies Act, 1923 Constitution (Forty-Fourth Amendment) Act, 1978 Constitution of India, 1950 Constitution of India, 1950 art. 20 Constitution of India, 1950 art. 20(3) Constitution of India, 1950 art. 21 Constitution of India, 1950 art. 22(1) Constitution of India, 1950 art. 47 Constitution of India, 1950 art. 253 Constitution of India, 1950 art. 359(1) Employee Polygraph Protection Act, 1998 Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 s. 3 Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 s. 5

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Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 s. 6 Indian Evidence Act, 1872 Indian Evidence Act, 1872 s. 24 Indian Evidence Act, 1872 s. 25 Indian Evidence Act, 1872 s. 26 Indian Evidence Act, 1872 s. 27 Indian Evidence Act, 1872 s. 73 Indian Evidence Act, 1872 s. 119 Indian Evidence Act, 1872 s. 132 Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 s. 2(h) Indian Penal Code, 1860 Indian Penal Code, 1860 s. 44 Indian Penal Code, 1860 s. 269 Indian Penal Code, 1860 s. 270 Indian Penal Code, 1860 s. 319 Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 s. 185 Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 s. 202 Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 s. 203 Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 s. 204 Police and Criminal Evidence Act, 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act, 1984 s. 64(1A) Railway Property (Unlawful Possession) Act, 1966 Sea Customs Act Sir John Jervis Act, 1848 Treason Act, 1696 Federal Rules of Evidence, 1975 Federal Rules of Evidence, 1975 r. 403 Federal Rules of Evidence, 1975 r. 702
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