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Magistrates can order accused to give voice samples for probe orders SC


New Delhi, Aug 02: In a major judgment, the Supreme Court has conferred the magistrates with the powers to direct an accused to give voice samples for the purpose of investigations.

This would mean that the police can approach the magistrate and an obtain an order for the voice sample of the accused for the purpose of an investigation.

File photo of Supreme Court

In the absence of any specific provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CRPC), the SC said that it feels it is necessary to use its inherent powers under Article 142 to confer the powers on a magistrate to order an accused to give a voice sample.

Several times in the past, the accused have objected to their voice samples being taken by an investigation. This procedure known as spectrography test is conducted so that voice samples can be matched. The question raised was whether such a test is violative of Article 20 (3) of the Indian Constitution. This article states that "no person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself."

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This issue has come up several times before the court. In the Devani vs State of Gujarat case of 2017, the High Court went into the statutory provisions of the CRPC. However the court was unable to locate the power under the current statutory regime. The court concluded that no directions could be passed to the accused to take part in voice print tests.

The voice spectrography does not fall under the ambit of a psychiatric treatment. The test is in no manner violative of Article 20(3). However in the absence of any specific provisions empowers the police officer of the court in law, it is not permissible to subject an accused to a voice spectrography test, the court held.

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