Consent Of Accused Not Necessary To Obtain Voice Sample; No Violation Of Article 20(3) Of Constitution: Kerala High Court

By – Alankriti Narayan

The Kerala High Court bench led by Justice R. Narayana Pisharadi has ruled that an accused’s consent is not required to obtain their voice sample for the purposes of comparison because it has already been established that obtaining the accused’s voice sample does not violate Article 20 (3) of the Indian Constitution. The petition, which claimed that the accused was not given an opportunity to be heard before being ordered to produce his voice sample, was dismissed by the court.

The petitioner, a Grama Panchayat Overseer, was the second accused in a case filed by the Thrissur-based Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB). The de facto complainant’s brother-in-law had built a new house and was waiting for the Panchayat to issue a completion certificate. The first defendant, a contractor, requested money from the de facto complainant in order to pay the petitioner in this case and other Panchayat officials in order to encourage them to provide the certificate.

In February 2021, the first accused met with the de facto complainant and collected Rs.25,000 from him, in violation of Section 7A of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, as well as Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code.

During the course of the investigation, the Court of the Enquiry Commissioner and Special Judge (Vigilance) issued a notice asking the petitioner to appear at a studio to capture voice samples. The petitioner asked the High Court to invalidate the notice and all subsequent proceedings based on it, citing Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

The notice was challenged on two grounds, which are,  first that the voice sample was asked for submission by the Special Court without hearing his part of the story and second that the mandatory order of submission of voice violates Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution.

The Court while referring to the judgment of Ritesh Sinha vs State of Uttar Pradesh said that the requirement that an accused provide a voice sample does not violate Article 20(3). The Court determined that the issue of affording an opportunity to be heard would only arise if his agreement is required for the sample to be taken. His consent is not necessary for this purpose because a request for a voice sample does not violate Article 20(3).

The mobile phone recovered during the investigation, according to the investigating officer’s statement, revealed details of a chat between the petitioner and the de facto complaint concerning the bribe demand. As a result, the Court determined that capturing the petitioner’s voice samples was critical for a thorough investigation of the case, given the necessity for advanced scientific equipment and investigation procedures to solve crimes.

The petition was accordingly rejected when it was determined that the challenge to the notice had failed.