A point of law

Reading in the news about that Dirty Old Man of India, N D Tiwari, I was intrigued by the court’s order that even if he does not permit it, a DNA sample may be forcibly extracted from him in order to verify a paternity suit that was filed against him by one of his possibly numerous illegitimate children.

And while I do harbor a deep desire to see the old man pay for his sins, I wondered at that time whether it was really legal to forcibly extract blood samples from someone for the purpose of such an investigation.

Specifically, I wondered, doesn’t this violate Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India, namely that a person cannot be compelled to give evidence against himself? (This being the equivalent of the rather more snappily named “5th Amendment” of the US Constitution.)

Again reading in the newspaper yesterday about the so-called ‘rave party’ that was busted in Juhu by the cops yesterday, I was interested to see that the various attendees were being blood-tested for drugs. And again the question arose in my mind: is it legal?

Quite coincidentally, I stumbled upon a link that Amba tweeted yesterday to a case heard by the Supreme Court in 1961:  http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1626264/

The case was important because the point came up, of whether, when an accused person is forcibly fingerprinted and his various measurements are taken in custody, he is in fact giving evidence against himself.

The judges concluded, no. The word ‘evidence’ means evidence given by speech or writing, and therefore, a mere fingerprint or a height measurement is not self-incriminating evidence. And by extension, neither is a blood sample.

But very interestingly, while DNA samples, blood samples and fingerprints are not considered self-incriminating, the Supreme Court held (in a 2004 judgment) that narco analysis, lie detector tests and brain mapping are. http://indiankanoon.org/doc/728920/

I suspect this information will be useful to some of us, perhaps, in a somewhat bizarre set of circumstances…

* * *

Back to N D Tiwari, who reminded me of a hadith that Adib shared with me several years back. According to it, the Prophet (pbuh) once said, on Judgment Day, the soul of every human being will be weighed to see if they are worthy of heaven or hell, but there are three categories of people whom God will not even glance at, who will be straightaway conveyed to the fires below. These are: the lying king; the lecherous old man; and the arrogant destitute.

Because for these people, there is not even any benefit of committing sin; they gain nothing by their evil actions. And, committing evil purely for the love of it, they do not even deserve Judgment.

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