The legal system of India is based on an extremely important concept “innocent until proven guilty”. This concept simply states that until and unless an accused is proven guilty for committing an offence and is only under an ongoing trial, the accused cannot be termed as a criminal.
Henceforth, due to this concept, the general citizens and the arrested individuals have been granted certain rights that cannot be seized under any circumstances. In India, the Indian Constitution and the Criminal Procedure Code provide certain rights to the arrested individuals.
Rights of an Arrested Person guaranteed under The Constitution of India, 1949 and The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
Right to know the grounds of arrest
If a subordinate officer makes an arrest under Section 55 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Crpc) then before arresting that officer must show the accused a written Order. The Order must have in writing that the senior officer of the subordinate officer has designated him to do so. If the subordinate officer does not show such written Order to the accused then the arrest is termed “illegal”.
Under Section 75 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Crpc), if an arrest is made after the issue of a warrant then also it is a mandate for the officer arresting to inform the accused of his grounds of arrest.
Right to silence and right against self-incrimination.
It is the duty of the police officers to ask questions to the arrested accused. However, it is at the discretion of the accused whether to answer or not answer such questions. The arrested accused has a right to remain silent and not answer the questions asked by the police authorities. The silence of the accused cannot be used against him either by the prosecution or by the police official. As per the right against self-incrimination mentioned under Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India, 1949, it cannot be stated that the accused is silent because he is guilty.
Right to be released on bail
If an individual is arrested for a bailable offence then it is the duty of the police to inform him about his right to be released on bail. Here, Section 50(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Crpc) deals with the information regarding the right to be released on bail.
Right to be taken before a Magistrate without delay
Under Section 56 and Section 76 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Crpc), if an arrest is made either with a warrant or without a warrant, it is the duty of the police officer to produce the arrested person in front of the judicial officer without any unnecessary delay.
Right not to be detained for more than 24 hours
According to Section 57 and Section 70 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Crpc), no police officer has the authority to detain an arrested individual for more than 24hours without judicial scrutiny. It is the right of an arrested accused to be produced before the Magistrate within 24 hours of arrest.
Right to free legal aid
Under Section 41D and Section 303 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, free legal aid is provided to an accused individual who is incapable of paying legal fees. Such free legal aid is provided by the Legal Services Authority. But a condition imposed is that this legal aid can only be given before the initiation of a trial.
Right to hire a legal practitioner
Article 22(1) of the Constitution of India, 1949 provides the arrested accused a right to hire a legal practitioner of choice.
Right to a fair and speedy trial
Article 21 of the Constitution of India, 1949 guarantees the right to a fair and speedy trial. This provision was created to prevent the secret release of a Conviction Order of any accused. Here, a speedy trial refers to an offence whose maximum punishment is 2 years. In such offences, police have a duty to complete the investigation within 6 months of the offence.
Right to be examined medically
If an arrested individual makes a request to be examined medically then under Section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 he has the right to be examined medically.
Hence, the phrase “Innocent until proven guilty”, makes it very evident that in India the burden of proof to prove any allegation lies upon the prosecution. Until and unless, an accused is proved guilty, he or she cannot be considered a criminal. An accused person is an entity who has been alleged to have committed an offense. Our Indian Constitution and CrPC provide certain rights to an arrested person that cannot be taken away.
This article discusses the most important rights provided to the arrested persons and the duties of a police officer that has to be kept in mind while making an arrest.