Shraddha Murder Case: Court Allows Delhi Police to Obtain Aaftab’s Voice Sample

24 December, 2022 | Pranay Lad

Shraddha National

The court approved the Investigating Officer's (IO) request for authorization to conduct a voice sampling test on the accused.

Delhi court on Friday agreed with the Delhi Police’s request for authorization to record the voice of suspect Aaftab Amin Poonawala in the murder of Shraddha Walker, stating that while the right to a fair trial belongs to the accused, a fair investigation is also necessary for the greater good of society.

“True, a fair trial is the right of the accused, but it is also true that fair investigation is also required in the larger public interest as the offence cannot escape and crime cannot go unnoticed simply because the accused is not ready to aid in the investigation,” Metropolitan Magistrate Vijayshree Rathore of Saket court said.

Thus, the court approved the Investigating Officer’s (IO) request for authorization to conduct a voice sampling test on the accused.

The Supreme Court of India’s ruling in Riteish Sinha v. State of Uttar Pradesh was also cited by the court, which made it clear that “judicial orders compelling a person to provide a sample of his voice is not a violation of the Fundamental Right to Privacy, under Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India.”

The court further highlighted that the Fundamental Right to Privacy cannot be interpreted as absolute and must yield to a strong public interest.

The court rejected the defence attorney’s argument that the accused must give their assent even in the instance of the voice sample test.

It is obvious that a speech sample test can be performed even if the accused object. The accused has previously been given the chance to express their willingness after being informed of the nature of the application made by IO, the court ruled.

Although the accused is unwilling to provide a voice sample for a speech sampling test, the court stated, “I am of the considered opinion that the accused can still be asked to provide the voice sample to investigating agency for accomplishing the ends of the justice and also for a fair inquiry.”

According to the court, there is no such restriction against recording the accused’s handwriting, fingerprints, or voice sample without their free and informed consent.

“The voice samples obtained for the investigation’s purposes cannot be viewed as testimony coercion. The only way an investigating agency can gather evidence against the accused in order to achieve the goals of justice is through this manner “The judge looked on.

Activist MS Khan In opposition to the plea, the accused’s attorney demanded a copy of the IO’s application for a voice sample and willingness to be given to him.

He added that he has a right to acquire a copy of the application and that he also has a right to respond to the said application because the accused’s right would be determined.

The accused’s right to self-defense would unquestionably become applicable at the stage of the trial, when he would unquestionably be given the opportunity to be heard and to defend himself, the court stated. This is only an inquiry action.

The arguments made by the accused’s attorney that a copy of this application must be given to him have no merit, according to the court.

“This is a delicate case in which the accused is already aware of the substance and the type of the application submitted by IO.

Furthermore, at this point in the investigation, the sole purpose of the procedure is to provide the accused with a chance to be heard. Consequently, the defence attorney’s argument is rejected “the tribunal added.

According to Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Amit Prasad, the accused does not have a right to a hearing at this point in the inquiry.

The court stated: “The SPP relied upon the decision of the eleven-judge bench in the cases of State v. Kathi Kalu Oghad and Ritesh Sinha v. State of Uttar Pradesh to bring home the point that at the stage of investigation and for the gathering of evidence, the accused has no right to be heard and it is for this Court to ensure that due process of law has been observed while gathering of evidence.”

He also cited the ruling in another case and said that the prosecution was following the rules set forth in the ruling on the Voice Sampling test.

The accused was permitted to communicate with his attorney by video conference. Aaftab declared he was unwilling to give authorization for a voice sample after speaking with his attorney.