One of the basic tenets of our legal system is the benefit of the presumption of innocence of the accused till he is found guilty at the end of a trial on legal evidence. In a democratic society even the rights of the accused are sacrosanct, though accused of an offence, he does not become a non-person. Rights of the accused include the rights of the accused at the time of arrest, at the time of search and seizure, during the process of trial and the like. The accused in India are afforded certain rights, the most basic of which are found in the Indian Constitution. The general theory behind these rights is that the government has enormous resources available to it for the prosecution of individuals, and individuals therefore are entitled to some protection from misuse of those powers by the government.
In the leading case of Kishore Singh Ravinder Dev v. State of Rajasthan, it was said that the laws of India i.e. Constitutional, Evidentiary and procedural have made elaborate provisions for safeguarding the rights of accused with the view to protect his (accused) dignity as a human being and giving him benefits of a just, fair and impartial trail. However in another leading case of Meneka Gandhi v. Union of India it was interpreted that the procedure adopted by the state must, therefore, be just, fair and reasonable.
Rights Of Arrested Person
1. Right To Silence:
The right to silence is a principle of common law and it means that normally courts or tribunals of fact should not be invited or encouraged to conclude, by parties or prosecutors, that a suspect or an accused is guilty merely because he has refused to respond to questions put to him by the police or by the Court.
Right to silence is mainly concerned about confession. Breaking of silence by the accused can be before a magistrate but should be voluntary and without any duress or inducement. To ensure the truthfulness and reliability of the facts he stated the magistrate is required to take several precautions. Right to silence and the right against self-incrimination have been watered down quite considerably by interpretation than by legislation. The defendant if he so desires can be a witness in his trial. His confession outside the court either to the police officer or to the magistrate is admissible.
2. Right To Know The Grounds of Arrest : According to Section 50(1) Cr.P.C. “every police officer or other person arresting any person without warrant shall forthwith communicate to him full particulars of the offence for which he is arrested or other grounds for such arrest.”
When a subordinate officer is deputed by a senior police officer to arrest a person under Section 55 Cr.P.C., such subordinate officer shall, before making the arrest, notify to the person to be arrested the substance of the written order given by the senior police officer specifying the offence or other cause for which the arrest is to be made. Non- compliance with this provision will render the arrest illegal.
Indian constitution has also conferred on this right the status of the fundamental right. Article 22(2) of the constitution provides that no person who is arrested shall be detained in custody without being informed as soon as may be, of the grounds of such arrest nor shall he be denied the right to consult, and to be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.
3. Information Regarding The Right To Be Released On Bail:
Section 50(2) Cr.P.C. provides that “where a police officer arrests without warrant any person other than a person accused of a non- bailable offence, he shall inform the person arrested that he is entitled to be released in bail that he may arrange for sureties on his.” This will certainly be of help to persons who may not know about their rights to be released on bail in case of bailable offences. As a consequence, this provision may in some small measures, improve the relations of the people with the police and reduce discontent against them.
4. Right To Be Taken Before A Magistrate Without Delay:
Whether the arrest is made without warrant by a police officer, or whether the arrest is made under a warrant by any person, the person making the arrest must bring the arrested person before a judicial officer without unnecessary delay.
According to section 56 of CrPC Person arrested to be taken before Magistrate or officer in charge of police station- A police officer making an arrest without warrant shall, without unnecessary delay and subject to the provisions herein contained as to bail, take or send the person arrested before a Magistrate having jurisdiction in the case, or before the officer in charge of a police station.
Provided that such delay shall not, in any case, exceed 24 hours exclusive of the time necessary for the journey from the place of arrest to the Magistrate’s Court.
5. Right Of The Accused To Produce An Evidence:
The accused even has right to produce witness in his defence in case of police report or private defence. After the Examination and cross examination of all prosecution witness i.e. after the completion of the prosecution case the accused shall be called upon to enter upon his defence and any written statement put in shall be filled with the record. He may even call further for cross examination. The judge shall go on recording the evidence of prosecution witness till the prosecution closes its evidence.
It is generally believed that in spite of the various safeguards in the Cr.P.C. as well as the in the Constitution, the power of arrest given to the police is being misused till this day. It is also believed that the police often use their position of power to threaten the arrested persons and take advantage of their office to extort money. There have also been innumerable reports on custodial violence that lead many to believe that deprivation of basic rights of the arrested persons has become commonplace nowadays.It is the duty of the police to protect the rights of society. It must be remembered that this society includes all people, including the arrested. Thus, it is still the police’s duty to protect the rights of the arrested person. Hence, in light of the discussed provisions, a police officer must make sure that handcuffs are not used unnecessarily, that the accused is not harassed needlessly, that the arrested person is made aware of the grounds of his arrest, informed whether he is entitled to bail and of course, produced before a Magistrate within twenty-four hours of his arrest.
By Rajat Malhotra @ lexliq