SC recognised ‘Right to silence’

Table of Contents

Recently, 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.
Constitutional Provisions:
  • 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 lawNo double jeopardyNo 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.

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