Mahant Prasad Ram Tripathi @ M.P.R. Tripathi vs State Of U.P. Via C.B.I./A.C.B., Lucknow And Another

The Allahabad High Court has decided that a phone call between two accused parties cannot be excluded from evidence because it was recorded illegally. [CBI/A.C.B., Lucknow and Others v. State of U.P. Mahant Prasad Ram Tripathi @ M.P.R. Tripathi] Justice Subhash Vidyarthi made the statement while upholding the trial court’s ruling to keep an accused person in a bribery case behind bars because of a recorded phone conversation.

The accused had disputed the phone conversation’s admission, claiming it was obtained illegally. But the Court dismissed his claim.

The Court declared that whether or not the telephone connection between the two accused parties was lawfully intercepted would not affect the admissibility of the recorded discussion as evidence against the applicant.

The court ruled that the contrary decisions from the Delhi High Court and the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Rayala M. Bhuvaneswari v. Nagaphanender Rayala and Sanjay Pandey v. Directorate of Enforcement, respectively, were inadmissible.

The Delhi High Court held in Sanjay Pandey’s case that “tapping phone lines or recording individuals’ calls without their knowledge is a breach of privacy.”

In a similar decision, the Andhra Pradesh High Court declared that a husband could not listen in on his wife’s conversation and that such evidence could not be presented in court. 

The Supreme Court’s legal principles, as established in the 2001 Parliamentary attack case of State (NCT of Delhi) v. Navjot Sandhu, were allegedly violated by the Allahabad High Court.

Justice Vidyarthi went on to say that the sole criterion that counts when determining whether or not evidence is allowed to be admitted in India is relevancy.

“The law is clear that any evidence can’t be refused to be admitted by the Court on the basis that it was obtained illegally,” the court declared.

Mahant Prasad Ram Tripathi, the former CEO of a Cantonment Board, was facing corruption charges, and the bench was considering a criminal revision plea trial court ruling that denied his request for release.

It is said that Tripathi made a 1.65 lakh rupee demand through board member Shashi Mohan.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) employed a digital audio recorder to capture the exchange between the two defendants after one of the accused put the phone on speakerphone. During this conversation, the co-accused allegedly told Tripathi that 6% of the amount had been paid.

The CBI claims that Tripathi replied “yes,” and when Mohan tried to carry on the conversation, the former advised him to avoid bringing up the topic and asked to talk to him in person.

Tripathi asked to be dismissed from this corruption case, citing the telephone conversation’s inadmissibility as evidence.

His lawyer claims that Section 5 of the Indian Telegraph Act only permits communication interception under certain conditions and only with a government warrant.

However, the Court declared that in this particular case, the phone call that was recorded would not be considered an interception.

It appears that the message was transferred by one of the accused to the other, who subsequently recorded it using a digital voice recorder, a separate recording device. In these circumstances, is it possible to say that the two accused individuals’ communication was “intercepted”? Based on the word’s straightforward meaning, the Court declared that it seems the transmission was not “intercepted.”

The court rejected the revision application and upheld the trial court’s ruling after noting that other evidence was also used against the accused, including the recording of the phone conversation.

Adv. Khanak Sharma

One Reply to “Legality of Recorded Telephone Conversation: Whether or not the conversation was recorded illegally has no bearing on its admissibility as evidence.”

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