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Accused can be subjected to scientific tests: court

Special Correspondent

"It does not amount to compelling him to break his silence by force"

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has ruled that subjecting an accused to undergo scientific tests such as brain mapping, polygraph and narco analysis examination would not amount to compelling him to break his silence by force.

Justice M. Jeyapaul, upholding a subordinate court order permitting such tests on multi-crore accused Dinesh Dalmia, said: "When there is a hue and cry from the public and human rights activists that the investigating sleuths adopt third-degree methods to extract information from the accused, it is high time the investigating agency took recourse to scientific methods of investigation."

Mr. Dalmia, arrested by the CBI on February 2, is accused of misappropriating Rs. 594.88 crore by selling 1.3 crore unallotted and unlisted shares of DSQ Software Limited. He was initially handed over to police custody for 10 days, which was later extended by four days.

The CBI moved the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court seeking permission to conduct polygraph, narco analysis and brain mapping tests on Mr. Dalmia and prayed for a direction to the Chennai Central Prison Superintendent to produce the accused on March 7 and 8 at the Forensic Science Laboratory in Bangalore. The present revision petition was filed in High Court after the lower court acceded to the plea.

The agency said the tests were necessary as Mr. Dalmia did not cooperate with the investigation process in police custody. "To unravel the end use of the huge defrauded amount, scientific investigation will have to be carried out," it said.

Opposing the prayer, senior counsel for the accused said the tests were an "indirect physical torture" and that police custody could not be permitted beyond 15 days. Mr. Justice Jeyapaul, pointing out that the CBI did not resort to third-degree methods to extract incriminating materials from the accused, said, "The allegation that the accused will face health hazard and his physical frame would be endangered if he undergoes such tests are totally without any scientific basis... He may be taken to the laboratory for such tests against his will but the revelation during such tests is quite voluntary. Therefore, such process does not amount to compelling a witness to give evidence against him."

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