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As per the legal principle, one is considered innocent until proven guilty.
The legal maxim reads out - "ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat". This translates to - the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on the one who denies.
This is what appropriately defines why it's necessary for having the rights of accused persons. Definition under various laws, suggests that each person has basic human rights.
There are certain fundamental rights of an accused person under the constitution of India. These rights are given to all, irrespective of the fact if a person is accused of a crime.
Therefore, till the time the crime isn't proven, there are certain rights of persons accused of crimes. In India, these rights to the accused are given on the lines of - ‘Let hundreds go unpunished, but never punish an innocent person’.
Well, the right of accused persons at different stages include:
the rights of an arrested person before his/her trial begins,
rights of accused in India during a court trial, and
the rights of an arrested person in India after his/her trial is completed
The Right to Appeal: The rights of arrested persons include the right to file an appeal against his conviction in a higher court.
The Right to Humane Treatment in Prison: Accused persons have the right to have all their human rights when in prison. Also, be subjected to humane treatment by the prison authorities.
Right to have Family Visits in Jail
Right against solitary confinement
Pre-Trial Rights of Accused in India
These are the rights of a person accused of a crime such that their freedom and liberty are not hampered.
The first stage of a trial is the pre-trial stage. Here an FIR is filed on the basis of which the police arrests a person, searches his property.
The stage prior to the commencement of a court trial is extremely crucial. So, any person accused of a crime must be granted the following accused rights:
Right to know about the accusations and charges: Under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973, the rights of an arrested person under CrPC include to know the details of the offence and the charges filed against him/her.
Right against wrongful arrest: The rights of accused in India are provided only in cases where a warrant is issued. Section 57 of Cr.P.C. and Article 22(2) of Constitution provides rights of accused in CrPC, that he/she must be produced before a Judicial Magistrate within 24 hours of arrest.
Right to accused of privacy and protection against unlawful searches: The police officials cannot violate the privacy of the accused on a mere presumption of an offence. As per right of accused in India, his/her property cannot be searched by the police without a search warrant.
Right against self-incrimination: A person cannot be compelled to be a witness against himself as per Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution (pdf).
Right against double jeopardy: A person cannot be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once as per Article 20(2) of the Constitution.
The Right against the ex-post facto law: The rights of accused in India also gives a person the authority where he/she cannot be tried for an offence that was the earlier crime and now is not. This means that the retrospective effect law is not applicable. An act that was not a crime on the day when it was done, cannot be considered as an offence.
Bail as the rights of accused in India: The right of an accused person allows them to file a bail application to be released from jail custody. There are three kinds of bail under Indian law- anticipatory bail, interim bail and bail by a bond. A bail application for normal bail can be filed only in case of bailable offences. However, a person can also file an anticipatory bail through his criminal lawyer, before his arrest.
Right to legal aid: In this, the rights of an accused person allow him/her to hire a lawyer to defend them and in case, he is not able to afford a lawyer, the State has to provide free legal aid to him for his representation in court.
Right to a free and expeditious trial: The rights of accused in India has the right to fair trial in India and an expeditious trial, which is free of any bias or prejudice.
Rights of the Accused during Trial
There are many rights of accused persons in India provided when their trial is ongoing in the court. It has been observed that the State has to ensure that due process of law is followed.
The accused gets a quick and impartial trial, the accused is not subjected to torture or forced to implicate himself. The rights of the accused during the trial include the following:
The Right to be present during a trial: Section 273 of the Code provides that all evidence and statements must be recorded in the presence of the accused or his criminal lawyer.
Right to get Copies of Documents: It comes under the rights of accused persons in criminal cases to receive copies of all the documents filed by the prosecutor in relation to the case.
Right to be considered Innocent till proven guilty: The accused has the right to be considered innocent until his guilt is proven in court on the basis of evidence and statements by witnesses.
The Right to be present at the trial: The accused person has the right to be present during his trial and have testimony presented in front of him.
Right to cross-examination: It's the right of the accused in criminal cases to be cross-examined by the prosecutor to prove their innocence.
Post-Trial Rights of the Accused Person
An accused person also has certain rights once his trial is over. These rights of the accused depend upon the outcome of his trial. This means, whether (s)he has been acquitted by the court or has been held guilty and arrested by police.
Rights of the Accused, if declared innocent
When a person is declared innocent and acquitted by the court, the following rights are given to him:
Accused persons have a right to get a copy of the judgment
Right to receive protection from police if there are reasons to believe there is a threat to his life post-acquittal
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There are numerous rights of the accused given to him/her before his trial, during the trial or after the acquittal or conviction. A person who is accused of committing a crime must consult a criminal lawyer to file for a bail application or when his rights are violated at any stage.
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