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WHAT IS IT? 'Truth serums' are drugs used in narco-analysis that cause a person to become uninhibited and talkative, but they do not guarantee the veracity of the subject’s statement. People who are under the influence of truth serums enter a hypnotic state and speak freely about anxieties or painful memories. The subject’s imagination is neutralised when semi-conscious, making it difficult for him/her to lie and his/her answers would be restricted to facts he/she is aware of.

IS IT RELIABLE? Although inhibitions are generally reduced, people under the influence of truth serums are still able to lie and even tend to fantasise.

WHAT ARE THE DRUGS USED? Sodium pentothal is an ultrashort-acting barbiturate, which sedates only for a few minutes. It slows down the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and inhibits brain and spinal cord activity. Sodium amytal and Scopolamine are other drugs used.

LEGAL STANDING: Such tests generally don’t have legal validity as confessions made by a semi-conscious person are not admissible in court. The court may, however, grant limited admissibility after considering the circumstances under which the test was obtained. In the main, these tests can only assist police investigations. In the Telgi case, the court permitted the tests to help the probe.

‘It is difficult to use third degree methods to extract information. To know whether the accused is speaking the truth or not, these tools come handy. This method should get a legal standing as early as possible to punish the guilty.’

Ujjwal Nikam
Public Prosecutor

Dec 30 , 2006
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