Book Review: ‘The Truth Machines: Policing, Violence and Scientific Interrogations in India’

The book is authored by Jinee Lokaneeta

This article reviews Jinee Lokaneeta’s book, The Truth Machines: Policing, Violence and Scientific Interrogations in India, whose central premise is the question – why do the Indian police frequently resort to beatings and torture to try and extract confessions out of accused instead of marshalling evidence in a scientific manner? And what explains such persistence of the use of torture by the police? The book helps us make sense of the police’s use of technology such as lie detectors, truth serums and brain mapping in the investigation of a case and offers a nuanced argument on the nature of policing in India and in doing so also offers an insight about the Indian state itself. It also suggests that there is a need to rethink some of our fundamental assumptions about the institution itself. A simple demand to increase numbers of police so that they are not so overworked in India or calling for separation of the police’s law and order and investigation functions may not actually address the underlying pathologies of the institution. The Truth Machines is a valuable addition to the discourse on police reform in India precisely because it complicates the questions in the hope of avoiding the pitfalls of easy answers.

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