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Rights of an Accused Person - The Indian Context

India, the land of diverse cultures and traditions, embraces a unique blend of justice and compassion in its legal system. Anchored in the Constitution, the rights of an accused person are an indispensable aspect of India's criminal jurisprudence. The Indian legal system draws inspiration from the principles of human dignity, fairness, and justice that echo the spirit of the makers of the Constitution of India. In this feature article, we will explore the rights of an accused person in the Indian context, reflecting upon the values championed by these legendary jurists.

Right to Equality and Fair Treatment:

Article 14 of the Indian Constitution guarantees equality before the law and equal protection of the laws to all individuals. This fundamental right ensures that an accused person is treated fairly and without discrimination based on religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. The relentless pursuit of social justice and equality, as well as unwavering commitment to the rule of law, have contributed significantly to shaping India's legal framework to protect the rights of the accused.

Presumption of Innocence:

The golden thread of criminal jurisprudence is the presumption of innocence. Until proven guilty, an accused person is presumed innocent. This principle, deeply ingrained in the Indian legal system, safeguards the rights of the accused and ensures that the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. Legal experts have been consistent advocates of this principle, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding the rights of the accused to prevent miscarriages of justice.

Right to Legal Representation:

The right to legal representation, enshrined in Article 22(1) of the Indian Constitution, guarantees that an accused person has access to a lawyer of their choice. This fundamental right ensures that an accused person is not denied the opportunity to present their case effectively before the court. The emphasis on the importance of legal representation in the Indian legal system reflects the commitment to uphold the rights of the accused and ensure a fair trial.

Right to a Speedy Trial:

A speedy trial is an essential component of the right to life and personal liberty enshrined in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Prolonged judicial proceedings can cause undue hardship and distress to the accused and their families. Therefore, the Indian legal system emphasizes the importance of expeditious disposal of cases to safeguard the rights of the accused and ensure justice.

Protection against Double Jeopardy and Self-Incrimination:

Article 20 of the Indian Constitution safeguards the rights of an accused person by providing protection against double jeopardy and self-incrimination. This constitutional guarantee ensures that an individual cannot be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once and cannot be compelled to be a witness against themselves. These protections are crucial in maintaining the integrity of the criminal justice system and upholding the rights of the accused.

The rights of an accused person in the Indian context are deeply rooted in the principles of justice, fairness, and human dignity. The Constitution of India, through its various provisions, seeks to ensure that the accused are treated fairly and equitably, thereby safeguarding their fundamental rights. The rich jurisprudential heritage of India reflects the unwavering commitment to uphold the rights of the accused and ensure that the criminal justice system remains just and compassionate.


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