Nilesh Dinkar Paradkar v. State Of Maharashtra (2011) - Voice Identification


Court :

Brief :
Whether voice identification can be deemed as admissible evidence as per the provisions of the Evidence Act.

Citation :
2011 (4) SCC 143

  • Bench: B. Sudershan Reddy, Surinder Singh Nijjar.
  • Appellant: Nilesh Dinkar Paradkar.
  • Respondent: State of Maharashtra.

Issue

Whether voice identification can be deemed as admissible evidence as per the provisions of the Evidence Act.

Facts

  1. The appellant was arrested under the provisions of MCOC Act, Indian Penal Code, and  the Arms Act for illegal possession of a weapon, along with four others. Since they had pleaded not guilty, they were put on trial by the trial court.
  2. The trial court convicted the five accused involved in the case based on a voice recording stating the intent of the weapon. The aforesaid judgment and order of conviction and sentence was challenged by the accused nos. 1 and 3. But, the trial court had discarded the voice identification of accused nos. 1 and 2 and acquitted them of charges under the provisions of Sections 3 and 25 of the Arms Act.
  3. The High Court, on appeal, held that voice identification was not to be established beyond reasonable doubt. The court proceeded to acquit accused nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4.
  4. The High Court dismissed the evidence provided by the prosecution and proceeded to distinguish the case of the appellant.
  5. However, the appeal filed by the appellant was dismissed by confirming the conviction and sentence awarded by the Special Court. It may also be noteworthy here that the acquittal of appellant under the provisions of Section 3 and Section 25 of the Arms Act was not challenged by the prosecution/State.
  6. Aggrieved by the judgment of the High Court, the appellant filed an appeal.
  7. The matter is now before the Supreme Court.

Appellant’s contentions

  1. The counsel for the appellant submitted that the High Court disbelieved the prosecution version in so far as the accused nos. 1 to 4 is concerned. Having disbelieved the prosecution version against accused nos. 1 to 4, the High Court committed a grave error in upholding the conviction of the appellant. He submits that the evidence against accused nos. 1 to 4 and the appellant is identical.
  2. The appellant argued that the High Court had committed a grave error in treating the voice identification evidence as substantive evidence.
  3. The appellant further argued that such evidence could be used for corroboration of the other independent evidence.
  4. The appellant made the aforementioned statement by referring to judgments given in Mahabir Prasad Verma v. Dr. Surinder Kaur[1], Ram Singh and Ors. Vs. Col. Ram Singh[2] and People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Vs. Union of India & Ors.[3]
  5. The appellant further argued that the veracity of the voice identification would not improve merely because a recording has been made after receiving official approval. The crucial identification was of the voice of the person talking on the tape.
  6. The appellant argued that he was entitled to the benefit of doubt as the prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

Respondent’s contention

  1. The respondent relied on the judgment given by the High Court.
  2. The respondent contended that the High Court had made an observation that the confessions were rejected as a whole.
  3. The respondent requested the court to uphold the view of the High Court and allow the conviction of the appellant.

Judgment

The court allowed the appeal and acquitted the appellant.

Relevant paragraphs

The crux of the present case is whether or not voice identification can be accepted as primary evidence or can it be evidence used for corroboration of the other independent evidence.

  • This apart, in the case of Mahabir Prasad Verma Vs. Dr. Surinder Kaur11 , this Court has laid down that tape recorded evidence can only be used as 11 (1982) 2 SCC 258 corroboration evidence in paragraph 22, it is observed as follows:- "Tape-recorded conversation can only be relied upon as corroborative evidence of conversation deposed by any of the parties to the conversation and in the absence of evidence of any such conversation, the tape-recorded conversation is indeed no proper evidence and cannot be relied upon. In the instant case, there was no evidence of any such conversation between the tenant and the husband of the landlady; and in the absence of any such conversation, the tape-recorded conversation could be no proper evidence."
  • In our opinion, the veracity of the voice identification would not improve merely because a recording has been made after receiving official approval. The crucial identification was of the voice of the person talking on the tape. We are of the considered opinion that the High Court has committed a grave error in confirming the conviction of the appellant as recorded by the trial court only on the evidence of voice identification.
  • Other circumstance relied upon by the High Court in convicting the appellant is the recovery of the alleged revolver from the house of the cousin of the appellant. In our opinion, the recovery from an open space, at the back of the house, which did not even belong to the appellant, could be of little assistance to the prosecution. Even otherwise it needs to be remembered that the trial court had in fact, acquitted the appellant for the offences under Section 3 read with Section 5 of the Arms Act. This acquittal was never challenged by the prosecution in appeal. Therefore, it was wholly inappropriate by the High Court to reverse the findings of the trial court in the absence of an appeal by the State.

[1] 1982 (2) SCC 258

[2] 1985 (Supp.) SCC 611

[3] 1997 (1) SCC 301

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Gnaneshwar Rajan
on 01 March 2021
Published in Others
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