Our Indian constitution guarantees Right to life as the fundamental right to every citizen of India, Also in UHDR, its article 1[1] deals with the equality and dignity of human beings. Similarly, Article 21[2] of the Indian constitution, expresses that No individual will be denied of his life and personal liberty besides as per the procedure established by the law, and those individual accused of crimes is also protected under Article 22[3] of the constitution. Our Indian constitution is based on a principle which says “lets N number of guilty persons leave freely but not a single innocent person should be punished.

Article 22 talks about, “No person shall be detained in custody without being informed, the authority making the order shall, as soon as may be, communicate to such person about the ground on which the orders have been made and not shall be denied the right to consult and to be defended by the legal practitioner by his\her choice”[4]

Human rights are the basic rights and freedom that every individual can enjoy till the death, It also leads to the development of the whole society and nation, our constitution guarantees basics human rights to each and every citizen of the country

Article 20

We often see many people who are arrested for some offenses, but one thing that comes to our mind is that whether there are some rights for the protection of the accused ones to be present before the court. Our constitution makers have faced the same questions so they inserted article 20[5] in part 3 of the constitution and the best thing about this article is that it will not be suspended even during the emergency period.

Article 20 provides 3 safeguards to every person accused of any crimes,

1. Ex post facto law

This is a Latin word, means, after the fact and also retrospective laws. These laws are the law which is enacted after illegal conduct has been done.  Article 20 additionally says “no one should be arraigned and sentences as per those laws which did not exist at the time of initiation of the offense by the accused and also not to be punished more than those laws existing at the time of the commission.”[6] Protection under this law is vested only for criminal offenses and not for the civil ones.

A landmark judgment in the case Kedarnath v. State of West Bengal,[7] the offense was commenced in 1947 but the judgment was passed in 1947 and by that day punishment was doubled as compared to the old one. Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that the offense was The case of Ratan Lal v. the State of Punjab,[8] provides us with an exception where SC allows retrospective implementation of the criminal laws to reduce the punishment of an accused.

2. Double Jeopardy

If someone has done a crime, he can only be prosecuted and punished for one time, several reasons for protection from these are:

  1. Averting the state, that they will not use their power at an extreme level on the innocent people.
  2. Protection of Accused Person from Financial, Economical, and social consequences of successful prosecutions.
  3. Elimination of cumulative punishment which might be imposed by the judicial system.

In the case of Maqbool Hussain v. State of Bombay,[9] it was held by the SC that custom authority does not amount to trial by a judicial tribunal on the case of Double Jeopardy when the Gold of a person was confiscated and he was later prosecuted for criminal trial as well. The defense of the prosecution came from Section 300(1) of the CrPC[10] which defines the concept of double jeopardy which means one cannot be prosecuted again for the same offense in the court of law.

But the application of this provision also demands certain conditions to be fulfilled:

  • The accused must have been tried by the court previously.
  • There must be a competent court that is trying the case.
  • The previous proceeding must have been ended; cases ended with only inquiry are not covered under section 300(1) of CrPC.
  • There must be a force previous conviction and it should not have been set aside by appeal or re-trial.
  • In the subsequent trial, one must be tried for the same offense and on the same facts for any other offense.
3. Immunity from self-incrimination

In the Indian constitution, Article 20 states “no person accused of any offense should be forced to utter and provide such information orally or by a documentary, that can be used against himself in further court proceedings.” But it is allowed for the accused to produce the evidence and information, voluntarily. The accused also has a Right to silence as a fundamental right.

Only if the accused does a criminal offense, then he will be put under a situation that he will get the immunity of self-incrimination. In CrPC section 161[11] also states, “A person is not bound to give all the answers, asked by the authorities that can be used against the person himself during the trial.


Concerning the increased number of cases of custodial deaths, there is also a landmark judgment given by the supreme court of India that is D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal[12], The apex court has shown concern about the increased no of custodial deaths, Supreme court has stated that Those who are supposed to protect the people or the one who is protector are the reason of custodial deaths in India, It is also aggravated by the concerned authorities, The apex court had also given some guidelines known as DK BASU GUIDELINES in which the police has to follow some rules with regards to arrest, detention, and interrogation.


We often see that the power of arrest has been misused by the police and the government officials, Article 20 also deals with the protection or safeguards and provides certain rights to the accused person. Article 20[1][13], 20[2][14], 20[3][15] gives protection to the accused persons, Indians, as well as foreigners, are protected under this and the much-highlighted point of this provision is that it is available even during the emergency.

Author’s Name: Shashank Shekhar (Lloyd Law College, Greater Noida)

[1] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, art 1

[2] Constitution of India, art 21

[3] Constitution of India, art 22

[4] Constitution of India, art 22

[5] Constitution of India, art 20

[6] Constitution of India, art 20

[7] 1954 SCR 30

[8] AIR 1965 SC 444

[9] AIR 1953 S.C. 325

[10] S. 300(1), The Criminal Procedure Code

[11] S. 161, The Criminal Procedure Code

[12] MANU/SC/0157/1997

[13] Constitution of India, art 20[1]

[14] Constitution of India, art 20[2]

[15] Constitution of India, art 20[3]

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