[Answered] Technology has been proposed as a silver bullet by many to solve the problem of custodial deaths. Do you think, technology is an effective solution against custodial deaths?

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain how technology is an effective solution against custodial deaths. Also write some of its challenges.Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Custodial death primarily refers to death in police custody and judicial custody. India has a grim record in police brutality and custodial violence. Between 2001 and 2018, 1,727 persons died in police custody, but only 26 policemen were convicted for such deaths. Custodial deaths are common despite enormous time and money being spent on training police personnel to embrace scientific methods of investigation.

Technology as an effective solution:

  • Body cameras could hold officers liable. Deception detection tests (DDTs), which deploy technologies such as polygraph, narco-analysis and brain mapping, could be valuable in learning information that is known only to a criminal regarding a crime.
  • Among the DDTs, the Brain Fingerprinting System (BFS) is an innovative technology which has proved helpful for solving crimes, identifying perpetrators, and exonerating innocent suspects.
  • Robots equipped with AI and sensor technology can build a connection with the suspects, utilise persuasive techniques like flattery, shame and coercion, and strategically use body language.
  • The HCI (human-computer interaction) system uses visual, auditory, near-infrared and other sensors to scrutinise a suspect’s eye movements, voice, and other qualities throughout an interaction. The aggregation of information and its analysis by the system have been highly accurate.
  • AI can detect human emotions and predict behaviour. Machine learning (ML) can in real-time alert superiors when police are meting out inhumane treatment to suspects.


  • As the BFS is high-end technology, it is expensive and unavailable in several States.
  • In 2010, the Supreme Court, in Selvi v. State of Karnataka, made the evidence inadmissible as state cannot perform narco analysis, polygraph, and brain-mapping tests, on an individual, without his consent. However, if consent has been acquired, BFS tests can be part of the evidence.
  • Although technological solutions might provide comfort and transparency, it can never address the underlying issues that lead to custodial deaths.
  • There exists the risk of bias, the threat of automated interrogation tactics, the danger of ML algorithms targeting individuals and communities, and the hazard of its misuse for surveillance.

What we need is the formulation of a multi-pronged strategy by the decision-makers encompassing legal enactments, technology, accountability, training and community relations. The Law Commission of India’s proposition in 2003 to change the Evidence Act to place the onus of proof on the police for not having tortured suspects is important in this regard.

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