SC recognised ‘Right to silence’
ContextRecently, the Supreme Court (SC) mentioned that, all accused have a ‘Right to silence’ and investigators cannot force them to speak up or admit guilt as emphasising that the Constitution accords every person a right against self-incrimination.
About the Verdict:
- The Right to silence emanates from Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution, “which states that no one can be compelled to be a witness against himself.”
- The provision gives an accused the right against self-incrimination, a fundamental canon of law.
- Under criminal law jurisprudence, it is considered the duty of the prosecution to prove a person guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
- Until proven otherwise, the accused remains innocent.
- An accused’s decision to remain silent can be construed as a negative inference in certain circumstances but it cannot absolve the prosecution from its duty to prove the guilt of that person beyond reasonable doubts.
- Referring to the constitutional Right of every person to not speak against himself or to remain silent, the court added that it cannot deprive a person of his liberty merely because there is a statement that he has not admitted his crimes.
- Article 20: It grants protection against arbitrary and excessive punishment to an accused person, whether citizen or foreigner or legal person like a company or a corporation. It contains three provisions in that direction:
- It contains provisions related to No ex-post-facto law, No double jeopardy, No self-incrimination.
- No self-incrimination: No person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.
- The protection against self-incrimination extends to both oral evidence and documentary evidence.
- However, it does not extend to:
- Compulsory production of material objects,
- Compulsion to give thumb impression, specimen signature, blood specimens, and
- Compulsory exhibition of the body.
- Further, it extends only to criminal proceedings and not to civil proceedings or proceedings which are not of criminal nature.