Laws in India presume that a person accused of an offence is innocent until the contrary is proven. It is well known that let 100 guilty persons go unpunished but a single innocent must not be punished for no offence.
The rights of an accused person have been protected not only under the Constitution of India but also under various laws for the time being in force. Top Supreme Court lawyers have been found working for the rights of the prisoners, accused and offenders since a long time. The reason being that even convicts accused and offenders are human beings and are therefore entitled to certain basic rights which cannot be taken away in any case.
The basic rights and protections guaranteed to every accused person are:
- Protection against the ex-post facto law: The Constitution of India provides that no person shall be convicted of any offence except the violation of a law for the time being in force. This protection is guaranteed to save a person from being prosecuted wrongfully. When a person has committed an act, which is not punishable under any law for the time being in force then such a person cannot be later prosecuted for the act done by him earlier.
- Presumption of innocence: A person accused of an offence is considered to be innocent unless the guilt is proven beyond any reasonable doubt. Lawyers in India and across the globe strongly follow this principle and rule of law that a person is deemed to be innocent until the guilt is proven. However, in certain exceptional cases like dowry death, the burden of proof is shifted on the defendant to prove that he is innocent. Otherwise, a general rule is that a person is considered to be innocent unless proven guilty.
- Protection against double jeopardy: The Constitution of India provides that if a person is tried of an offence and is acquitted or convicted for the said offence then such a person cannot be tried again for the same offence. People often look up for online legal consultation to understand their rights and duties. The rights of an accused have been given great importance lately because various cases have surfaced wherein the rights of the accused persons had been violated resulting even into miscarriage of justice.
- Prohibition against self-incrimination: The Constitution of India also gives protection to a person accused of an offence from self-incrimination. In a fair judicial system, it is highly important that a person must not be forced to incriminate himself. This gives protection to an accused from being questioned adversely when he opts to remain silent. However, this does not mean that a person cannot choose to make voluntary free confessions. An accused has an option available to make voluntary confessions and the same does not amount to self-incrimination under any law for the time being in force. It is important to note that if a confession is obtained forcefully then the same is not admissible. The protection against self-incrimination also amounts to a protection guaranteed to an accused that he/she must not be compelled in any manner whatsoever to give evidence against himself. Best criminal lawyers in Delhi are often found giving their clients legal advice about their rights and how protection is guaranteed by the Constitution of India against self-incrimination as a person accused of an offence is often forced to make confessions and statements against their free will which is a huge violation of the protection guaranteed under the Constitution of India.
- Right against wrongful arrest: Every person has been guaranteed protection against wrongful arrests and detention under the Code of Criminal Procedure. Under this right, if a person is arrested then such a person is to be presented before a magistrate within 24 hours of his/her arrest. It is highly pertinent to note that this right is available only when a warrant is issued. In cases where a warrant has not been issued this right is not available.
- Right to know the charges: A person accused of an offence and arrested for commission of an offense has a right to know about the charges levied against him, it is of great importance that a person must be made aware of the charges under which he/she is being arrested.
- Right to be heard: A person accused of an offence must necessarily be given an opportunity of being heard. Once a person is accused of an offence he is considered to be innocent until his guilt is proven beyond reasonable doubt. To establish the guilt of the accused it is important that the accused must be given an opportunity to express his side of the story and must be given an opportunity of being heard before giving a decision.
- Right to just and fair trial: A person accused of an offence has a right to just and fair trial. Every trail must ascertain that the principles of natural justice have been followed which include speedy remedy fair hearing and other provisions as well.
- Right to free legal aid: A person accused of an offence has a right of being heard by an appropriate counsel. If a person owing to financial constraints is unable to appoint a counsel to represent his case then such a person is entitled to free and compulsory legal aid. Lately, legal aid has been considered to be a corollary of the right to life and personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, making right to free legal aid a fundamental right.