The Rights of the Accused

An accused or arrested person is the one who has charged for a crime, but not necessarily has committed the crime. The term arrest means apprehension of a person by legal authority so as to cause deprivation of liberty. They are the arrested as the police officers think that there is a chance for that person to be the criminal, this is usually taken on the benefit of doubt after considering all the evidences and issues. They cannot be arrested merely by suspicion or information, a doubt has to arsise considering all the factors, only them one can be arrested. Arrest can tekr place with and without a warrant, Section 41 of the CrPC (Criminal Procedural Code), 1973 states the situations where a peron can be arrested without a need for a warrant, for example rape, murder, etc. In India it is presumed that a person is always innocent till proven guilty, and we also lay down the principle that no matter whoever it is, either the innocent or guilty including criminals , have the right to life which is enshrines in the Indian Constitution under the article 21. This article states that “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.” This right can be invoked only if it has been decided by the court that a person can no longer can be alive, by issuing a death sentence, or in the case of life imprisonment, the decisions are taken after reviewing the offences, arguments by both parties, evidence, and the necessary legislations. So, every person including the accused have certain rights and they will we discussed in the article. Subsequently the accused have several rights that are vested in them, and are to be followed during the time of investigation, trial and all the procedures he is concerned with. The accused has the right to know that hes certain rights. The rights of the accused can be divided into two broad categories:

  1. Rights at the time of arrest, and
  2. Rights at the time of trial

The rights that are included under the above two categories will be discussed below:

1. Right to know the grounds of arrest : A person who has been arrested, has the the following rights which enable him to know the reasons for the arrest. They have been discussed as follows:

  • Article 22(1) of the constitution states that no police officer can arrest a person without telling the person reasons behind his arrest.
  • Section 50 and 50A  of the CrPC states that there is a duty on the part of police officer to states the reasons for his arrest, this is applicable when a police officer arrests the person without a warrant, and this action should also be informed to the person’s relatives or friends.
  • According to Section 55 of CrPC, if a junior has been delegated the work to arrest a certain person without warrant , then the junior has to give the order of delegation, along with reasonable reason for the arrest.
  • Section 75 of CrPC provides that when the warrant for arrest is being issued, it shall be notified and checked by the arrested person, the warrant shall be furnished in case of any changes.

2.  Right to be produced before the Magistrate without delay : The arrested person shall be taken to the magistrate before 24 hours, failing so it would make the respective authorities responsible for wrong arrest or detention. This right has been clearly explained in article 22(1) of the constitution, along with section 56 and 76 of the CrPC. 

3. Information regarding right to be released on bail : If a person arrested without a warrant, and is accused of a bailable offence, then the police officers have to give information, that they have the right to get a bail on payment of a certain amount. Section 50(2) of the CrPC has stated that a person has a right to get bail, and they shall inform the arrested person that, so that they can make arrangements for attaining the bail.

4. Right to fair and just trial : This right has two components i.e, the right to fair trial, and the right to speedy trial. 

  • Right to fair trial should be granted as everyone is equal before law. The law of equality has been clearly enshrined under article 14 of the Constitution. The trial must be fair, should be conducted in open court, and shall also be recorded using camera but there can be exceptional sensitive cases where camera recording is considered unnecessary. 
  • Even Though the right to speedy trial has not been mentioned anywhere, the Supreme court gave a judgment in Huissainara Khatoon v/s Home Secretary, State of Bihar case where it as held that the trial shall be disposed as diligently and expeditiously as possible. 

5. Right to consult a lawyer : Every person who has been arrested has the right to consult a lawyer of their own choice. This element has been stated under article 22(1) which states that one could choose their lawyer to defend them in the court, the same has been stated under section 41D of CrPC in the case of interrogation, and section 303 of CrPC when criminal proceeding are happening. Hence, when all the above situations take place one has a right to a legal practitioner. 

6. Right to free legal aid: When a person is not financially capable of hiring a lawyer for defending them, in that case the state has the duty to provide free legal aid to all the accused person who have been poverty stricken, this has been stated under article 39A of the constitution. The duty of the states was again reminded in Khatri v/s Bihar case. The same has also been provided under article 302 of CrPc.

7. Right to remain silent : One has the right to remain silent during the trial, it cannot be presumed that a person is guilty just because he is unanswering all the questions. It has been enshrined under article 20(3) that no person can be compelled to be a victim against oneself. In the Nandini Satpathy v/s P.L. Dani case it has been stated that no person shall be forced to confess something as they have a right to remain silent. 

8. Right to be examined by a medical practitioner : Under the section 54 of the CrPC, it has bee stated that the accused person has the right to get a medical examination done, if the accused claims that there are some details which would prove that he has not committed the crime, this is also applicable when the accused claims that he has some detail on him which proves that there was a commission of crime by someone else on him, this right can be availed. 

All the above 8 rights are the major ones which play an important role in the rights of the accused. However there have been other rights stated under the sections 55A, 358, 41, 46, 49 of the CrPC. They contain rights like right to health care ans safety of the accused, right to avail compensation when illegally arrested, etc. There have been cases like In D.K Basu vs  State of West Bengal and others which is a landmark judgement,Joginder Singh vs. State of U.P ,and many other cases which played an important role in achieving today’s state of accused rights. 

All the above rights have comes to present states only after many efforts ov different people. The main intention behind it was to reduce the number of illegal and custodial deaths, which are mainly caused due to illegal arrests. Not only that, we should remember  that the accused and criminal are also normal human beings like the all of use, hence they should be deprived of right to life, and the right to have rights. The rights have fulfilled its objectives mainly to decrease the number of custodial deaths. In spite of all the rights, there are cases which have been reported where the police are misusing their authority and position, by invoking the rights of the accused, to gain some money out of the process. There also have been cases where the accused in has not been informed about his rights, and he was totally unaware of them, due to which he was exploited. Police officers are the keepers of law and rights, thy are not supposed be doing the above crimes, instead they should play an important role in making sure everyone is exercising their rights in the society. The legislation should get more stringent in regard with the crimes of police officers, as stricter the legislation lesser the problems. Continuous efforts are taking place, and one day in the future we might see no misuse of rights, and when no one is deprived of them too. 

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