Self-incrimination – an Inhumane Treatment

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“Injustice anywhere is threat to justice everywhere” was stated by Martin Luther King. The core concept of criminal law is that “let a hundred guilty get scot free, but one innocent should not be convicted”. The person accused of crime is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty and shall not be prone to trial under ex post facto law which is also embedded under Article 11 of UDHR. Our legal system strives in achieving a balance between the rights of the accused and the interest of the society which is jeopardized. But in most cases the so called rights of the accused are left only in papers despite considering their rights to be a sacrosanct. In actual veracity, it is the people belonging to the strata of poverty especially on account of their vulnerable and voiceless situation are often denied of their fundamental rights and prone to inhumane treatment when they are accused of a crime. This distressing treatment can be traced from International history and is still prevailing in our 21st century. Article 21encompassing the right to life and personal liberty forms the arc of all other rights. The remorse situation of custodial death arose on denial or refusal of the fundament rights to the accused typically during interrogation sessions.

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The Latin maxim Nemotenetur episum accusare ensures that no person shall accuse himself as entrenched in English and American Jurisprudence. The accused are sufficed with rights at pre-trial phase, post-trial phase and at the stage of trial. This paper drops a spotlight on right against self-incrimination dealt under Article 20 (3) of Constitution of India which includes the ambit of right to silence, accused to be a witness on his own behalf subject to reasonable restrictions. Supreme Court has ruled out in numerous cases that certain overzealous police officers undertook methods which are archaic, barbaric, drastic and inhumane in order to gather evidences for wrenching decisions in favor of them.

India is a democratic Country having its bedrock on Rule of Law embedded in our Constitution which can be derived from Part III and other provisions also. Our country is a place where mediocrity is at a premium. The bitter truth is that most of the illiterates are exploited on account of their insecurities. They are ill-treated by institutions of both State and society. Hence India stands as a preeminent example of working democracy with strains of muddle. While concerning the rights of an accused person one must have clarity between accused and prisoner which are in most cases erroneously assumed to be synonyms of each other. Prisoner is a person who had underwent the process of trail and has been convicted for the offense. Whereas an accused person is the one who is suspected to have been done the crime (accused of an offense) and is yet to undergo the process of trail or is still not declared to be convicted or acquitted by the trial. As mentioned earlier the rights available to an accused person can be divided into pre-trail phase, post-trail phase and at the stage of trail. Some of the rights available to a person accused before the stage of trail are the right against wrongful arrest, right to know the grounds of arrest, right to privacy and protection against unlawful searches, right against self-incrimination, right to free legal aid etc. The policemen who is ought to give protection to the accused itself at times becomes the reason for his custodial death seems to be ironic.

The fundamental right of right against self-incrimination guaranteed under Article 20(3) of our constitution stands to be an indispensable right for a person accused of an offense as it gives him an umbrella of protection in determining his guilt during the phase of trail. On cogitation, the query on why a person is put in a situation to self-incriminate oneself reveals that it is due to the vulnerable situation and his/her ignorance of their rights and protection such a pathetic condition had arose.

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