The Truth Machines: Policing, Violence, and Scientific Interrogations in India
Jinee Lokaneeta
153 x 230 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

In the Aarushi-Hemraj double murder case, the popular campaign to challenge the convictions of Aarushi's parents emphasized the results of narcoanalysis despite the lack of scientific validity and legal inadmissibility. The Truth Machines examines the emergence and use of three scientific techniques—lie detectors, brain scans, and narcoanalysis (the use of truth serum)—in the Indian criminal justice system. The postcolonial Indian police have often been accused of using torture in both routine and exceptional criminal cases, but together with forensic psychologists, they have claimed that the three techniques represent a paradigm shift away from physical torture.

The book considers the nature of state power and legal violence in liberal democracies by focusing on the interaction between law, science, and policing in India and analyzes two primary themes. Through case studies and the results of extensive fieldwork,the book first questions whether existing theoretical frameworks for understanding state power and legal violence are adequate to explain the constant innovations of the state. Second, it explores the workings of law, science, and policing in an everyday context to generate a theory of state power and legal violence based on a study of both state and non-state actors such as lawyers and activists.

Jinee Lokaneeta argues that the attempt to replace physical torture with truth machines in India fails because it relies on creating just another site for coercive confessions . Her work also provides insights into a police institution that is founded and refounded in its everyday interactions. Theorizing a concept of contingent state, this book demonstrates the disaggregated and decentered nature of state power and legal violence, creating possible sites of critique and intervention.

This book will be of interest to Political Scientists, Legal Scholars, South Asian Study Scholars, Human Rights Scholars, and Critical Theory Scholars.

Jinee Lokaneeta is Professor in Political Science and International Relations at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. Police as a Site of State Power: Custody Practices and Policing Logics

Chapter 3. Transnational Borrowings, Scientific Contestations, and Cultural Productions

Chapter 4. The State Forensic Architecture: Forensic Psychologists and the Art of Scientific Interrogations

Chapter 5. Courts and Legal Discourses: The (Flawed) Art of Government

Chapter 6. Scaffold of the Rule of Law: Terror Suspects and the Experience of Violence

Chapter 7. Conclusion


1. Book Discussion : Prof Jinee Lokaneeta's - The Truth Machine-Justice Muralidhar
2. Book review | Published in the journal, Studies in Indian Politics, 4 April 2022.
3. Page turners of 2021: Non-fiction | Published in The Telegraph, 31 December 2021.
4. (Un)truth Technologies to Subvert Justice | Published in The Economic and Political Weekly, 25 December 2021.
5. Interview on book: 'Physical torture remains the main form of interrogation' |, 19 November, 2021.
6. Breaking the prisoner | The Indian Express, New Delhi, 28 October 2021.
7. Time as a political good | The Indian Express, New Delhi, 23 June 2021.
8. Book review | Published in the journal, Social Change, 2 June 2021.
9. Bitter Truths | Published in The Telegraph India, Kolkata, 9 April 2021.
10. Review of the book: "The Truth Machines: Policing, Violence and Scientific Interrogations in India" published in the India Law Journal (ILJ) | 25 January, 2021.
11. Why Police in India Use 'Third Degree' Torture Methods for Interrogation | THE WIRE, 23 July 2020.
12. Jinee Lokaneeta's The Truth Machines: A Response by Dr. Pooja Satyogi |, 8 July, 2020
13. Book Review: Jinee Lokaneeta's The Truth Machines | Anushka Singh - Mainstream Weekly
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