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    BlogRights of Accused under the Indian Criminal Law System

    Rights of Accused under the Indian Criminal Law System

    This article is submitted by Preeti Birla.She is Content Writing intern at Legal Thirst.


    The Constitution of India guarantees the fundamental rights of every human being, such as “the right to life and personal liberty”, “the right to live with dignity” and so on. In addition to this, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides for the universal protection of fundamental human rights.

    Indian law recognizes the rights of anyone arrested, tried or convicted, and imprisoned. A person does not lose his/her basic human and fundamental rights because a principle of our criminal justice system states that a person is presumed innocent until they are convicted. Even after they are convicted they are allowed to have certain rights. Protections are granted to accused/arrested persons under various Indian laws such as Constitution, CrPC, and CPC.

    Since the Indian constitution is combined with democracy and the rule of law, the concept of a free and fair trial is a constitutional promise, and the fundamental principles of criminal law revolve around natural justice, where even the accused or guilty are treated humanely. The country’s laws require the independence of the prosecution and to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

    The accused was also granted certain rights, the most basic of which are enshrined in the Indian constitution. Defendants have certain rights in any investigation; the alleged offense is investigated or tried and shall be protected from arbitrary or unlawful arrest.

    According to the constitution, the basic principle of our constitution is to allow hundreds of people to go unpunished, but never to punish the innocent. Access to fair representation in criminal proceedings is an aspect of the right to equality (Article. 14).

    In Kishore Singh Ravinder Dev v. State of Rajasthan (1981), the court held that the Indian constitution, evidence, and procedure act contained legal protection of the rights of the accused during trial and protection of his human dignity and provided him with the justice of the court, the benefits of a fair and impartial trial. This article discusses the rights of Indian defendants at arrest, search, and seizure, during the trial, and after conviction. The Indian legal system follows the principle of “innocence until proven guilty”. The court should consider the accused innocent until the accused is proven guilty. If the accused is arrested, his rights shall not be taken away as detailed below.

    There are different laws that provide different rights for people accused of crimes. The need for these rights accompanies the progress of the phases of criminal matters, namely pre-trial phase rights, trial phase rights, and post-trial phase rights. These rights are as follows:

    Pre-Trial Rights of an Accused-

    The Right to Know the Charges and Offences Against which he/she is Charged

    When the accused is arrested by the police, he must be informed of all charges and charges related to the arrest of the person. This right is enshrined in Sections 50 and 75 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The accused must be aware of all the crimes charged against him, and any officer must declare full details of the crimes for which the accused was arrested. The person carrying out the arrest is obliged to inform the designated person of the arrest and full details of the arrest.

    Right against Unlawful Arrest

    It is against the law to wrongfully detain anyone. Every accused person has the right to object to such arrest and detention. These rights are enshrined in the Constitution of India under Article 22(2) and Section 57 of the CrPC. Anyone arrested under a warrant by any police officer must bring the arrested person before a magistrate within 24 hours, excluding the time from the police station to court.

    Privacy and Prevention of Illegal Searches

    According to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, no one shall be deprived of his personal life and liberty except in accordance with legal process. In order to fulfill and not violate the rights set forth in Article 21, the Criminal Code provides for the procedure for issuing a search warrant to conduct a search in an individual’s home. The accused does not lose this right even after an arrest, and if the police need to search the accused’s house, they must obtain a search warrant issued in accordance with the procedure set out in the law.

    Against Self-Incrimination

    In criminal law, everyone involved in a criminal proceeding provides a statement stating the facts of the case. The defendant also provides this statement and he/she is obligated to answer every question the police ask him/her in relation to the ongoing case, but in providing answers to the questions, the defendant has the right not to answer those questions that may lead to his/her guilt the problem. This right is known as the right against self-incrimination under Section 161(2) of the Criminal Procedure Act 1973 and Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution.

    Casein the case of M.P. Sharma v. Satish Chandra (1954), the Supreme Court complied with the following points-

    • It is a right relating to a person “accused of a crime”.
    • It is a protection against being “forced to be a witness”
    • It is a protection against such testifying against him protections concerning coercion “against himself.”

    Protection against Double Jeopardy

    Anyone charged with a crime has the right not to be tried and punished multiple times for the same crime.

    For instance-A is charged with theft at B’s home and A has served a sentence imposed by the court. Now “A” cannot be accused of the theft that occurred in “B”‘s home again due to the right under Article 20(2) of the Indian Constitution or what is known as the right to prevent double jeopardy.

    Case– in Natarajan v. State (2005), the supreme court stated that “a person who has been tried by a court of competent jurisdiction for an offence and has been convicted or acquitted, shall not be tried again for the same offence or for any other offence for which he may be charged differently under Section 221(1), or he may have been convicted under Section 221(2) thereof.

    The Right to Object to Ex-Post Laws or the Retrospective Effect of Laws

    The retrospective effect of a law means that the introduction of a new law and its implementation take effect even before its introduction. In India, one has the right to object to this legal effect. Article 20(1) of the Indian Constitution, reads as follows:

    No one shall be convicted of any crime unless the violation of the law is in force at the time of the act charged with the crime and will not be subject to. The excess may be caused under the law in force at the time of the crime.

    Case– in Kedar Nath v. West Bengal (1954), the accused committed an offence in 1947 which was punishable by imprisonment or fine, or both.  However, the act was amended in 1949 to provide for a fine equal to the amount he received for committing that particular offence. The Supreme Court held that in 1949 amendment act did not apply to defendants because it was considered ex-post law. The court also noted that aggravated penalties for criminal conduct cannot be subsequently applied to defendants, who can take advantage of the favorable provisions of the law after the fact.

    Right to Bail

    In criminal law, a defendant arrested for a crime is entitled to bail and release from judicial custody unless he/she is charged with a non-bailable crime. However, even in the latter case, bail can be granted. Any person who is arrested without a warrant and is accused of a bailable offence has to be informed by the police officer that he is entitled to be released on bail on payment of the surety amount.

    Right to be taken before a Magistrate Without Delay

    Regardless of whether the arrest is warranted or not, the person carrying out the arrest must bring the arrested person before judicial officers without any unnecessary delay. Under Sections 56 and 76 of the code, the accused must be brought before a magistrate within 24 hours.

    The Right to Legal Aid

    According to Section 304 of the Criminal Procedure Code, every person accused of a crime has the right to legal advice. If the accused cannot afford a lawyer, he/she must obtain the required legal aid, at the State’s expense.


    • in Sukh das v. United Territories of Arunachal Pradesh (1986), the Supreme Court held that if there is no way for the accused to retain a lawyer to facilitate a free and fair trial in court without prejudice to the principles of natural justice.
    • In Sheela Barse v. The State of Maharashtra (1987), the supreme court held that whenever a person is arrested by the police and brought to police custody, the police will immediately imply the fact that such an arrest is sent to the nearest legal aid board, which will take immediate measures to provide legal aid to the arrested person at state expense, provided that he is willing to receive such legal aid.
    • In Khatri v. Bihar (1981) case, the Supreme Court held that the state is constitutionally empowered and obliged to provide free legal aid to the poor and needy in order to uphold their fundamental human rights and to achieve natural justice. Free laws should be provided not only at the beginning of the trial, but also when the accused is brought before the magistrate for the first time when the accused is arrested. Furthermore, the court held that it would be useless to provide a defendant with free legal aid if the authorities did not inform the defendant of his rights. Therefore, the Supreme Court held that magistrates and courts have a duty to inform the poor that he is entitled to free legal aid from the state.

    The Right to a Free and Fair Trial

    Every person accused of being a defendant has the right to be heard without prejudice, a natural right inherent in every human being. No prejudice should hinder the defendant’s right to justice. This right is an implied right protected by Article 21 of the Constitution.

    CaseIn, D.K. Basu v West Bengal, in this case, the Supreme Court issued guidelines requiring mandatory compliance in all cases of arrest or detention, including that arresting authorities should have accurate, visible, and clear identification and their Name tags with their names, and memos signed by those arrested and their families. The family or friends of anyone nominated by the arrestee must be informed of the defendant’s arrest, and the arrestee may be allowed to see his lawyer during the interrogation but is not entitled to be present throughout the interrogation.

    Right of an Accused Post-Trial

    The rights of the accused after the trial is over depend on the outcome of the proceedings and, therefore, the judgment. According to the judgment of the trial court, the rights of the accused are changed.

    If a defendant is convicted by a trial court, the defendant’s primary right is the right to appeal to a higher jurisdiction. This means that the defendant can appeal the order/judgment passed by the lower court.

    If the accused is acquitted of the charges against which he is charged, the accused is entitled to a copy of the acquittal decree passed by the trial court.

    The protection of the rights of the accused is not limited to the pre-trial stage. It goes on trial and has the following rights:

    Right to Appear at Trial

    During the course of the trial, a lot of evidence and documents are presented in court, and the accused in a criminal case has the right to be present when the evidence and documents brought before the court are presented. Court. Unless it is expressly stated that the defendant should not be present at the time of the statement or that the defendant is deliberately absent, in both cases, the trial may be held without the defendant in court. This right is enshrined in Section 273 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

    The Right to Obtain Copies of Documents

    During the course of a criminal trial, many different types of documents are submitted to the court for different purposes. These documents include evidence submitted by the prosecution, evidence submitted by defence orders and orders passed by the court, certified copies of court proceedings, etc. The accused has the right to receive all copies of these documents in order to be fully informed of the ongoing proceedings in the trial, this right is provided under Section 76 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.

    The Right to be Presumed Innocent Until Proven Guilty

    This is also known as the presumption of innocence, and in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, it is recognized as a fundamental right of every accused. The presumption of innocence is an important and constitutionally guaranteed right granted to defendants in criminal trials and is an internationally recognized right. In India, in order to respect this fundamental right, the burden of proving the accused’s guilt rests with the prosecution.

    Right to Cross-Examination

     In a criminal trial, there is a stage where both parties appear in court and question each other’s witnesses. This stage is called the Chief Exam and the Cross Exam. The accused has the right to be cross-examined by the Prosecutor’s Committee to prove his/her innocence.

    Right to Keep Silent

    The right against self-incrimination can be used at any time during criminal proceedings. Since every law made in India is subject to the Indian constitution, the right to remain silent is an undeniable fundamental right. Even, the Supreme Court of India noted in the coal fraud case that “the principle against self-incrimination remains an important safeguard that has been constitutionally accepted as part of the country’s criminal jurisprudence.”

    Case -In Nandini Sathpathy v P.L. Dani, it was held that no one can compel a statement from the accused and the accused has the right to remain silent during the trial (investigation).


    Indian law is structured such that even if an accused person is found guilty by a trial court, he/she should not claim that they have not been adequately heard and given an equal opportunity to appear in court. In criminal matters, defendants have equal rights to protect them from unlawful investigation and judicial proceedings. Both the Constitution of India and the Code of Criminal Procedure provide some rights for all those involved in criminal proceedings.

    In the course of the justice system, defendants have many opportunities to prove their innocence, stay informed about ongoing criminal proceedings, and refrain from making any coercive statements themselves that could lead to self-incrimination.

    Disclaimer: The opinions and views in the articles and research papers published on this website; are personal and independent opinions of the author. The website is not responsible for them.

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