What are the Legal Protections Available to an Accused
Legal Protections Available to an Accused

Along with the rights granted to the accused, some legal protection is available as well. Protection to the accused is provided with a view of human dignity that is given to every citizen. This short law note states the legal protection that is available to an accused under a criminal trial. And, these can be stated as:

Here’s more on the above topics.

What is Doctrine of Double Jeopardy?

The doctrine of double jeopardy is an important principle of the administration of criminal justice. This doctrine is contained in the common law maximautrefois acquit and autrefois convict. It means that an accused can plead previous acquittal and previous conviction as a bar to the subsequent trial. In simple words, the doctrine of double jeopardy means that a person cannot be punished more than one time for the same offence.

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In Indian law, the doctrine of double jeopardy is twofold. One is contained under Article 20(2) of the Indian Constitution, and the other is contained in section 300(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

The provision given under the Constitution consists of only the principle autrefois convict. Article 20(2) of the Constitution has no application in cases where punishment is not for the same offence. Also, if the offences are different, the rule of double jeopardy will not apply.

However, for claiming the plea against the trial of a second offence, both the previous prosecution and the previous conviction are vital. But as far as the rule contained in section 300(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code is concerned, it consists of both autrefois convict as well as autrefois acquit. Therefore, where there has been acquittal at the end of a trial for the same offence, the person has to plea under the provision of section 300(1) of CrPC.

Case Law: AA Mulla vs State of Maharashtra (1997)

In this case, the appellants were tried for enclosing nine gold biscuits before the Special Judge. But they were acquitted later as the prosecution had failed to prove misappropriation. However, the appellants were tried again under the Customs Act and the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA).

The court held that the second trial was not violative of Article 20(2) as not only the ingredients of the offence of the two trials were different, but the factual situations of offence in both the trials were also different.

To clear your confusion: In this case, the doctrine was not applied as the facts and ingredients were different. The doctrine of double jeopardy is attracted when the person is punished twice for the same offence and in the above case, the offence was not the same.

What is Presumption of Innocence?

This protection is established from a well-known common law maxim- “a man is presumed innocent until he is proved guilty“. A law presumes any person or an accused to be innocent until he is proved guilty for any offence committed by him. In general, the burden to prove the accused guilty is on the prosecution.

Case Law: KM Nanavati vs State of Maharashtra (1962)

In this case, The court stated that the prosecution must prove the guilt of the accused or he is presumed to be innocent until the prosecution proves his guilt.

What is Doctrine of Self-Incrimination?

The accused also enjoys the protection against giving self-incriminating evidence. Self-incrimination means the giving of evidence that might incline to disclose the witness to punishment for crime. The term is generally used with respect to the benefit of denying to give evidence.

In India, this protection has been ensured via several provisions. Article 20(3) of the Constitution provides that an accused person cannot be forced to be a witness against himself.

Case Law: Amrit Singh vs State of Punjab (2007)

In this case, the court held that asking an accused of his hair with the objective of identification is testimonial compulsion. Further, it held that the accused has the right to deny giving a specimen of his hair for identification. The Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 provides under section 313 that an accused cannot be held liable for punishment merely for refusing to answer questions or for giving incorrect answers for the same. Further, section 164(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code provides that an accused person cannot be convicted for coerced confession.

You may also read:
1. Rights of an Accused or arrested Person.
2. Rights of an Advocate.

Subhashini Parihar
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