The Punjab and Haryana High Court in the case of Kamal Pal and Another v State Of Punjab held that a judicial order to record voice samples for investigation purposes is not violative of Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution and the right to privacy.
The Vigilance Bureau, Punjab received information about monetary extortion from the local public at Tehsil Banga to get the sale deeds registered. The petitioners were, allegedly, garnering money to get the deeds registered from the Tehsil.
Following the procedure, the mobiles of the petitioners were tapped and the transcriptions received formed sufficient evidence to file an FIR. During the trial, the VB applied to collect voice samples of the petitioners for comparison with the evidence. The judicial magistrate allowed it.
The petitioners challenged it. A single-judge Bench of Justice Avneesh Jhingan in Punjab and Haryana High Court upheld the judicial order. The Court referred to the judgements in Kathi Kalu Oghad, K.Puttaswamy and Ritesh Sinha.
Firstly, the Court referred to SC’s ruling in Ritesh Sinha v. State UP, where a similar judicial order was upheld.
Then based on the judgment in Oghad, the HC stated that the collection of sample prints for comparison does not lead to self-incrimination of the accused as it is not based on the personal knowledge of the accused. Thus, it doesn’t violate the right against self-incrimination under Article 20(3).
On the issue of Privacy, the court referred to K. Puttaswamy Case and upheld the order on the basis that the right to privacy is not absolute and is subject to permissible restrictions.
The court then referred to Ritesh Sinha’s case. Here, the SC had observed that S 5 of CRPC, can’t be used to compel the accused to provide voice samples. So, the court, by judicial interpretation and using the powers under Article 142, gave the magistrate the power to pass such orders.
The court also brought to notice the provisions of Section 73 of the Indian Evidence Act, according to which investigating officer can take such steps.