Supreme Court Upholds that Magistrates Can Command Collection of Accused’s Voice Samples

The Supreme Court has recently reaffirmed its position that a Magistrate retains the authority to order the gathering of a voice sample from the accused as part of an ongoing investigation. This decision upholds an earlier ruling by the Gujarat High Court, which refused to intervene in a session judge’s order directing the accused to furnish a voice sample to law enforcement authorities.

The Court was faced with a special leave petition, which took issue with the Gujarat High Court’s decision supporting an order issued by the Special Court in Gandhinagar back in 2021. The order necessitated the accused petitioner to submit his voice samples for a spectrograph test in a corruption case.

The petitioner’s counsel contended that unless specific rules are developed and an appropriate standard operating procedure is made public under the auspices of the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 along with its related Rules 2022, the act of collecting a voice sample could infringe upon the accused’s “right of privacy.”

In response to these claims, the Supreme Court referred back to its ruling in Ritesh Sinha Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh, asserting that, “the fundamental right to privacy cannot be construed as absolute and must bow down to compelling public interest.” This perspective is upheld in other notable decisions, including those in Modern Dental College and Research Centre v. State of M.P., Gobind v. State of M. P., and the nine Judge’s Bench of this Court in K.S. Puttaswamy(Privacy 9) v. Union of India.

Adding further, the Court noted that the decision in Ritesh Sinha suggests that, “the Magistrate is given the power to order for collection of voice sample for the purpose of investigation of a crime until explicit provisions are engrafted in the CrPC by the Parliament. Such direction was issued by invoking powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India.”

The Supreme Court, seeing no issues with the judgments from both the High Court and the Special Court, ruled, “we see no infirmity with the impugned judgment of the High Court as also of the Special Court ordering the accused to give his voice sample to facilitate investigation of the crime.”

The case in discussion was titled “Pravinsinh Nrupatsinh Chauhan v. State Of Gujarat,” and was represented by counsel Shamik Shirishbhai Sanjanwala, AOR Tejas Baro.

In the ongoing legal dialogue around the balance between individual rights and the public good, this decision solidifies the Supreme Court’s stance in favor of tools that aid law enforcement in the pursuit of justice. The Court’s decision underscores the paramount importance of investigating and combating crime in the public interest, even as it navigates the intricacies of privacy rights within the scope of criminal investigation procedures.

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