SC: Identifying a person by his voice is risky in a criminal trial.

The Hon’ble Apex Court in the matter of  Kirpal Singh vs. State of U.P., AIR 1965 SC 712 was of the opinion that identifying a person by the timbre of his voice is risky in a criminal trial.

(Para 4) It is true that the evidence about the identification of a person by the timbre of his voice depending upon subtle variations in the overtones when the person recognizing is not familiar with the person recognized may be somewhat risky in a criminal trial.

Recently the Supreme Court in the matter of Dola @ Dolagobinda Pradhan & anr. v. State of Odisha(Judgement_29-Aug-2018) on 29.08.2018 observed that in cases where the identification of the accused is done from voice, it is necessary to prove first that whether the witness was acquainted enough with the accused in order to recognise the accused by  his/her voice.

(Para 16) Thus, from the above cases we may cull out the principle that identification from the voice of the accused may be possible if there is evidence to show that the witness was sufficiently acquainted with the accused in order to recognize him or her by voice.

In other words it can be inferred from this judgement that even if a witness alleges that he/she identifies the accused by voice, it shall be necessary to establish that the witness knows the accused so well that he/she recognises the accused’s voice.

It is a golden thumb rule of law that whatever is not denied is deemed to be accepted. Similarly, in the matter of Mohan Singh vs. State of Punjab, AIR 2011 SC 3534,the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that voice identification was accepted, inter alia, on the ground that there was no evidence adduced to challenge the evidence of the witness that he had acquaintance with the accused and that he knew the voice of the accused.

-Tushar Kaushik

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