Shraddha case: Court extends judicial custody of Aftab for 14 days

On December 24, allowing the plea of Delhi Police seeking permission to obtain a voice sample of Poonawala, a Delhi court said even though a fair trial is a right of an accused but at the same time, a fair investigation is required in the larger public interest
Shraddha Walker with accused Aftab Poonawala
Shraddha Walker with accused Aftab PoonawalaANI

NEW DELHI: Delhi's Saket court on Tuesday extended the judicial custody of Aftab Poonawala, the accused in the Shraddha Walker murder case, for the next 14 days. Saying Poonawala has requested some law books to study, the court has also directed the authorities to provide him with warm clothes.

On December 24, allowing the plea of Delhi Police seeking permission to obtain a voice sample of Poonawala, a Delhi court said even though a fair trial is a right of an accused but at the same time, a fair investigation is required in the larger public interest.

Metropolitan Magistrate Vijayshree Rathore of Saket court said, "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 merely because the accused is not ready to aid in the investigation."

"Thus, the application moved by the Investigating Officer (IO) seeking permission for a voice sampling test of the accused is allowed," the court said. The court also referred to the decision of the Supreme Court of India in 'Ritesh Sinha vs State UP', clarifying its position that "judicial order compelling a person to give a sample of his voice is not violative of Fundamental Right to Privacy, under Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India".

"It was further observed in the case that the Fundamental Right to Privacy cannot be construed as absolute and must bow down to compelling public interest," the court noted. The court said the contention of counsel for the accused that the consent of his client is mandatory, even in the case of the voice sampling test, cannot be accepted.

"It is clear that a voice sampling test can be conducted even if the accused does not consent to the same. An opportunity of seeking the will of the accused after informing the nature of application moved by IO is already granted to the accused," the court said.

The court further observed, "Even though the accused is not willing to give voice sample for voice sampling test, however, I am of the considered view that the accused can still be asked to give the voice sample to investigating agency for reaching the ends of the justice and also for a fair investigation."

There is no such prohibition of compulsory consent of recording the accused in handwriting, fingerprints impression and voice sampling test, the court said.

Poonawala is accused of killing his girlfriend, Shraddha, chopping her body and dumping the remains in the forests of South Delhi's Chhatarpur.

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