SELVI MURUGESHAN V. STATE OF MAHARASHTRA
Appellants: Selvi and Ors.
Respondent: State of Karnataka
Court: High Court Of Karnataka
Bench: Justice B.V.Nagarathna & H.T.Narendra Prasad
The Complainant Kavita Murugeshan, wife of Shiv Kumar and daughter of Selvi Murugeshan, lodged an FIR that her parents and others have murdered of her husband. The complainant contends that she married her husband Shiv Kumar(Victim) against her parents’ wishes and had charged her parents for the murder of her husband. The victim was kidnapped while he was walking with his wife (the complainant) and next day he was found dead wherein his head was smashed with an object and he was identified by his driving license. Therefore the investigating agency made demand from the court for conducting Forensic Test to support the complainant’s case with strong evidence, although collection of evidence is permitted under the law by the police officer, conducting the forensic test on the accused in order to extract evidence is also part of collecting the evidence.
- The question before the court was that whether conducting Narco-Analysis test on the accused person will be a violation of Article 20(3) of Indian Constitution?
- Whether the involuntary administration of the Forensic techniques violates the right to privacy and personal liberty as given under article 21 of the Indian Constitution?
- Whether the Forensic Techniques used to extricate Evidence are against Human Rights?
According to Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India compelling an accused to be a witness against himself is considered to be unconstitutional. The Court regards that when we talk about Forensic techniques in order to extricate evidence it is meant that the accused is deemed to be under influence of certain Narcotics compounds because of which he is confessing relevant details and would not be able to lie. Further the Court opines that as there is no consent involved in this procedure of extracting evidence from the accused is against the right to self-incrimination as Article 20(3) aims to prevent the forcible ‘conveyance of personal knowledge that is relevant to the facts in issue’.
According to article 21 of the Constitution of India no person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty. In the present case it was absorbed that no individual should be forcefully subjected to any of the techniques in question against his will at the time of conducting the test as it amounts to an unwarranted intrusion into personal liberty of that person. The use of Narcotics substances in the impugned tests were criticized by the Bench as it infringes a person’s mental privacy.
The court also held certain guidelines laid by the National Human Rights Commission for administration of Forensic tests as other methods used in this process sought to be painful and against basic human rights.
Number of Judgments have been cited and discussed in the present case. It was held by the court that Forensic test should be performed in the presence of expert team of doctors. In this case, court permitted the authority for conducting the Narco-Analysis test. The Narco- Analysis test showed the involvement of Selvi Murugeshan and her husband but they were let off due to the lack of other evidence.