Forensic Narco Analysis is a myth and accused may falsely implicate others

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Bengaluru, July 1: A popular mode prevalent for extracting truth from the accused to invigorate the investigation is a narco analysis test. 26/11 Mumbai terror attack convict Ajmal Kasab, the convict in infamous counterfeit stamp paper case, Abdul Karim Telgi and a few others have undergone this test.

In a latest development, Mangaluru Police have moved an application in a Mangaluru court, JMFC III, seeking permission to conduct narco analysis test on the key accused in RTI activist Baliga murder case. In this backdrop, OneIndia has interviewed Dr K S Madhava Rao, ace psychiatrist who has performed narco test for over 1,000 patients in his career.

narco analysis

This interview is done to understand whether 'truth serum' really works. As popular perception still remains that accused provide incriminating details to the investigators to strengthen the case.

"Forensic narco analysis test on accused is a big myth and a notion or perception prevailing that truth can be elicited is far from truth," Rao initiated his conversation. Unless there is a rapport between the performer and the one who is being narcoed, truth cannot be elicited, opines Rao who has authority in such tests and is the President of Indian Psychiatric Association, Karnataka.

To throw consolidated light on the topic, Rao bifurcates the narco analysis. There are two categories; medical narco analysis and forensic narco analysis. 

Dr K S Madhav Rao

Medical Narco Analysis

"Firstly I will shed light on medical narco analysis. There are a range of medications that can be used for the same. For example in 1979, I had tried with the permission of my professors, Lorazepam and Diazepam. These are sedative hypnotics, which require slow administration for communication with the patients," Rao explains.

Sometime medicine called Ketamine, which causes euphoria..elation. "However best I have been found in my 38 years of experience in this horizon is Sodium Thiopental (barbiturate), also known as Sodium Pentothal and famously termed as truth serum.

This particular drug comes in a vial of 1 gram. This will be diluted with 10 ML of distilled water. Each cc contains 100. 1000 in 10 cc,.. 100 in 1 cc. "We take about 2 to 3 cc, that is about 200-300 mg of Sodium Pentothal, dilute it further with distilled water and inject it into the vein of patient."

After that, slow pushing is needed ensuring there is not much secretion and wheezing. This drug sometimes induce wheezing on the patient. This is the standard procedure. In the forensic narco analysis test, same drug will be used. They use 10 or 20 cc of syringe or sometimes avail drip to inject the serum.

Further delineating on narco analysis, Rao said 'one to one' narco analysis exercise is what works with patients ailing from psychological problems. "I performed this test on a female who's right hand was paralysed due to fear of exam." The girl was receiving constant pressure from teacher and parents to score above 91%. This led the girl to go into paralysis.

The drug worked. She came out from the state. Here the drug comforts her. The girl was too scared even to share her woes as she was reeling under authoritative pressure from teachers and parents. "When Sodium Pentothal was injected in the presence of only one person (Madhav Rao), she found comfort to express her problems, thereby facilitating me to kill her fear.

Forensic Narco Analysis is a myth

Madhava Rao categorically states forensic narco analysis is nothing but a myth. Unless a person likes to cooperate with the psychiatrist, nothing can be elicited. Unlike medical narco analysis, here the accused (most of the time) does not co-operate with the interrogators. Moreover, there is no rapport between the psychiatrist and the accused.

Rao says with authority that the accused can train his mind and avoid any question. "If an accused wants to remain mum during forensic narco analysis, he can do so." Narco analysis is done for patients to comfort them thereby trying to get answers needed for psychiatrists for treatment. "It is a patient willing to talk but cannot talk due to certain circumstances and with the drug patient loosens up enough to discuss his/her problems with the doctor." Rao tells.

However, in forensic most of the time accused are reluctant to cooperate. Accused can stay silent and he can even divert the topic of the subject. "There is also another danger. Accused can or may falsely implicate others who are not at all in the crime picture." To tell the truth, narco analysis is not the best method, Rao opines.

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