Legal Rights of Accused Person in India
“A man is innocent until proven guilty”
Yes, this is an international human right under the Art. 11 of UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is followed by many countries including India.
Accused person is a person who is in the custody of police and thus there are certain fundamental rights for them as well. The rights of an accused person can be used in different following phase:-
· Rights before trial
· Rights during trial
· Rights after trial
A. Right of arrested person (i.e. before trial) – Arrested person have some rights as a normal human being when they are arrested which is made by our judiciary system. These rights include the Right to Humane Treatment in Prison, Right to have family visits in jail, Right against solitary confinement, handcuffing & bar fetters and protection from torture(if the person is isolated from others as a punishment)
Now, when the trial is started by the police officer, then that accused person have certain rights:-
1. A person who is in the prison is entitled to know about the charges for which the person is accused for. If the police denies to show the warrant (which is made for particular type of case) then this arrest will be termed as unlawful arrest.
2. The accused person has the right to inform his or her closed ones under Sec.50A of CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code) and it is the duty of the police officer to communicate the same. Also the person can meet the person whomever he wants in the custody of police officer.
3. Under Art.22(1) of Indian Constitution, the accused has the right to choose any lawyer or legal practitioner of his choice.
But if the accused person is indigent person or is not able to appoint a lawyer because of financial problem, then the police officer is liable to appoint a lawyer for an accused person. This is regarded as right of free legal aid under Art.21 of Indian Constitution.
4. Whenever the police officer is arresting a person for a bailable offence, then the person is eligible to grant his bail and this is the duty of police officer to inform the same.
Interesting fact: A person can have an anticipatory bail as well, if the person already knew that the police might come to arrest then the person can apply for anticipatory bail and is not entitled to get arrested.
5. Under Sec.57 of CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code) and Art.22(2) of Indian Constitution, an accused person cannot be detained for more than 24hours without the order of magistrate. If the police fails to do so then the entire period of custody will be declared as illegal detention for which police will be held liable.
6. If the accused person wants to be examined by medical practitioner, then he is entitled to get examined under Sec.54 of CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code) to prove himself innocent.
7. ‘Audi alteram partem’ is a Latin phrase which states that “let the other side be heard as well” or “listen to other side”. Both sides i.e. prosecution side and defence side must be heard. In this, the accused person can provide his evidence to prove himself innocent. Also, the court is entitled to give the same rights to both sides and must listen to them equally. This is under the right to a free trial.
8. Principle of double jeopardy states that the accused person cannot be punished or arrested for more than one time for the same offence.
9. The accused person cannot be arrested for ex-post facto law i.e. the person cannot be accused for the act which was not an offence earlier but now its is. This means that the retrospective effect law is not applied.
B. Rights of accused person (i.e. during trial) – There are many rights that an accused person has during his trial like the right to be present during a trial, the right to get copies of document, the right to be considered innocent till proven guilty, the right to be present at the trial, the right to cross examination by the prosecutor to prove his innocence and the right to speedy trial.
C. Rights of the accused person (i.e. after trial) – When the trial is over and the accused person is not guilty of any offence, then that person can have a copy of the judgement and if there is a threat to his life post acquittal, the person shall get the protection from police.
Some case laws which led to the making of these rights to an accused person :-
1. Joginder Kumar Vs. State of U.P. & Ors, 1944 SCC 260.
In this case, Hon’ble Supreme Court gave the guidelines that an arrested person should be allowed to inform a friend or relative. Also, the right to get presented is laid down in this case’s guidelines.
2. Prem Shankar Sukla Vs. Delhi Administration, 1980 SCC 526
In this case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court emphasized for not using handcuffs and fetters (chain) unless needed or when the person is involved in serious non- bailable offence or the person is in violent behaviour, or attempts for suicide,etc.
3. Sunil Batra Vs. Delhi Administration
In this case, it was declared that the prisoners must be treated as person and have their fundamental rights as well.
4. T.V. Vatheeswara. Vs. State of Tamil Nadu
In this case, it was held that Art.14,19 and 21 are available to the prisoners as well as freemen.
In this blog I have focused on the basic and important rights that an accused person has before, during and after trial. Case laws mentioned are some of the important cases apart from these there are many case laws as well like DK Basu Vs. State of West Bengal, Ajmal Keshab’s case, Hussainara Khatoon Vs. Home Secretary Bihar, etc.
Author- Simali Savaria
Editing Board Member
LEGALEAGLE LAW FORUM