The Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled that obtaining a suspect’s voice sample does not infringe his or her fundamental right to privacy.
With this in mind, Justice Avneesh Jhingan’s single-judge bench dismissed the petition, which was appealing the Lower Court’s decision compelling the Petitioner-accused to provide a voice sample. The petitioner’s counsel stated that the impugned decision violates Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution and infringes on the right to privacy because it states that “no individual can be compelled to be a witness against himself.” The Court noted that the matter is no longer res Integra and cited Ritesh Sinha v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2019 Latest Caselaw 642 SC, which concluded that the directives to take a voice sample do not constitute res Integra and doesn’t infringe Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India.
The Supreme Court, in The State of Bombay Vs. Kathi Kalu Oghad & Ors, 1961 Latest Caselaw 233 SC, addressed the question of “Whether Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India, which protects a person accused of an offence from being compelled to be a witness against himself, extends to protecting such an accused from being compelled to give his voice sample during the course of an investigation into an offence.”
In The State of Bombay Vs. Kathi Kalu Oghad & Ors, 1961 Latest Caselaw 233 SC held that the prohibition contemplated by the constitutional provision contained in Article 20(3) would come in only in cases of the testimony of an accused which is self-incriminatory or of a character that has the tendency of incriminating the accused himself.
“Each person has a particular voice with distinguishing features determined by vocal cavities and articulates, similar to fingerprints and handwriting. The samples are taken with consent and in conformity with the law. The sample taken is not evidence in and of itself; rather, it is used to compare the evidence already gathered.”
The Court stated that the violation of the petitioner’s fundamental right to privacy cannot be used to scuttle the investigation by simply asserting that the voice in the recording is not that of the petitioner and that there is no comparison.
“The channels of communication are changing as technology progresses. To stay up with the times, new technology for gathering and comparing evidence is essential. The tapping of communication equipment is one method, but only if the procedure is followed. The collection of voice samples is required in this context. The obtained samples are not evidence in and of themselves, but rather tools for comparing the voice recording “, it declared.