Polygraph test can only be conducted with consent of the accused: Karnataka HC

The court noted that the silence of the accused does not amount to consent.
Karnataka High Court (PTI File Photo)
Karnataka High Court (PTI File Photo)
Updated on Mar 17, 2021 03:48 PM IST
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Written by hindustantimes.com | Edited by Joydeep Bose

The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday ruled that polygraph tests, popularly known as 'lie-detector tests', can only be conducted after the accused concerned has provided their consent for the same. The court noted that the silence of the accused does not amount to consent, according to a report by Bar and Bench.

A polygraph or a lie detector test is a procedure to record physiological indicators like blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity while a person is asked to answer a series of questions.

In its judgment, a single bench of the Karnataka High Court detailed the set of circumstances under which authorities were permitted to conduct a polygraph test. As per a copy of the judgment posted by the legal portal, it reads:

An application, if any, for such polygraph test has to be served on the said person on whom the polygraph test is to be administered, as also on the lawyer of the said person if so appearing. The effect and impact of the polygraph test and any answers given during the conduct of the polygraph test has to be clearly made known to the said person. The consent in writing is to be obtained from such person before directing the administration of the polygraph test.

Regarding the matter of consent, the court noted, "Such a consent [sic.] has to be categorical without any doubt and be made after being informed and made aware of the implication of the polygraph test and effect thereof."

Justice Suraj Govindaraj, on behalf of the Karnataka High Court, highlighted that "mere silence of the said person would not amount to consent".

"If a person were to refuse the administration of polygraph test, no such polygraph test could be administered and even if administered, the result of the said test would be void and cannot be considered by a Court of Law," the judgment reads.

The court was hearing a petition filed by one Viren Khanna, challenging a trial court's order which directed him to undergo a polygraph test and provide biometric passwords for his electronic devices to the police. An accused in the sandalwood drug scandal, Khanna contended in his petition that the "involuntary administration of the impugned techniques" was a restriction on his "personal liberty" and a gross violation of his privacy and 'right against self-incrimination.

The Karnataka High Court also made several other relevant observations today regarding the proper protocol involving 'search and seizure' operations and testimonial compulsion.

Noting that the trial court ought to have taken into consideration the fact that a polygraph test cannot be conducted without the consent of the accused, the Karnataka High Court set aside the earlier order.

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