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Legality of ordering voice samples of accused splits Supreme Court bench

Bhadra Sinha, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 12, 2012
First Published: 00:12 IST(12/12/2012) | Last Updated: 00:14 IST(12/12/2012)

Can a court direct an accused to give his/ her voice sample against his/her consent during a criminal investigation? Does giving voice sample invade a person's privacy?

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These questions have remained unanswered as the Supreme Court delivered a split verdict on the issue that would have a bearing on several criminal cases where the police require voice samples of accused for completing a probe. On Monday, Delhi Police moved a city court for a direction to two senior Zee editors to give their voice samples in the Jindal group extortion case.

While Justice Aftab Alam held an accused cannot be compelled to give his or her voice sample, his colleague Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai held it otherwise.

According to Justice Alam, court cannot direct accused to give the voice sample as it amounted to invasion of the rights of an individual.

Justice Desai, however, said even if the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPc) did not directly empower a magistrate to direct accused to give his or her voice sample, a purposive interpretation should be given to law to strengthen the hands of investigating agencies. "Crime has changed its face.  There are new challenges faced by the investigating agency," she added.

Both, however, agreed that an amendment was imminent in the CrPc to bring in more clarity and precision. Referring the debate to a larger bench, Justice Alam ordered sending copies of the judgement to the Union Law Minister and the Attorney General to draw their attention to the issue.


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