SC recognises ‘Right to silence’
Polity & Governance
21st Jul, 2023
Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) mentioned that, all accused have ‘Right to silence’ and investigators cannot force them to speak up or admit guilt. SC emphasised that the Constitution accords every person a right against self-incrimination.
Key-highlights of 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.