Fundamental Rights and Criminal Justice Administration

The author discusses the relation between fundamental rights and criminal justice system and how the protection of Fundamental and Human Rights through the Criminal Justice system is an essential element of any state governed by the rule of law.

Introduction to Fundamental Rights

Indian Constitution is the law of the land, all the laws, acts, rules, and regulations have their roots in the constitution and Part III of the constitution is the heart & soul of the Constitution. If any law infringes any of the Fundamental Rights or is incompatible with the Constitution, the provision of the act is considered to be illegal/ unconstitutional. Every law is supposed to protect the Fundamental Rights and given under the Constitution. The protection of Fundamental and Human Rights through the Criminal Justice administration is an essential element of any state governed by the rule of law.

Criminal Justice Administration in India

Criminal law has dependably been an incredible source for the expansion of human and fundamental rights. When we go through fundamental rights enshrined  in our constitution; we will find that many of them have their origins in circumstances and cases relating to criminal jurisprudence. Fundamental rights, such as the presumption of innocence, rights to silence of the accused, article 20 of the Constitution[1] which protects individual in respect of convictions of offenses, article 22[2] which protects against detention and arrest and the burden of proof on prosecution are the base of the criminal justice system and are the very essence of Part III of the Indian constitution.

Guaranteeing Fundamental Rights inside the structure of the Criminal Justice administration cannot be understood to mean simply the protection of the rights of the under-trials, or prisoners, or convicts. In fact, it can appropriately be contended that the most fundamental of every single human right in a criminal justice delivery system, is the right of access to the court of law within the 24 hours of arrest (article 22 sub-clauses 2)[3]. Underlining this essential significance, Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) provides that “Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, and the determination of his rights and obligation and of any criminal charge against him.”[4] Despite the fact that these fundamental rights are of much importance and should be acknowledged all around the world and are developed over the range of human rights, the execution has not been satisfactory in India according to the international organizations.[5]

The significance of the rights of access to justice for those associating with the criminal justice system as complainants, suspects, status guilty parties or detainees can’t be over-underlined. As officially expressed, it is maybe the most fundamental of every single human right in the criminal justice system.

Fundamental Rights are the Source of the Basic Provisions of Criminal Justice Administration

Fundamental rights are the root for basic provisions of criminal law. While going through the criminal law of India one can clearly see that they reflect the clear vision of Part III, on each and every node they try to protect the fundamental rights such as article 21, 20 and 22.

The security of Article 21[6] is accessible to criminal law and convict also. The convicts are not by insignificant reason for their conviction denied of all their fundamental rights that they generally have. Taking after the conviction of a convict is put into a prison he might be denied of basic opportunities like the right to move openly all through the territory of India. But, a convict is entitled to the valuable right ensured by Article 21 and he should not be deprived of his life and personal liberty.

In Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India[7], the Apex Court gave another dimension to Article 21. The Court has interpreted Article 21 in order to have most stretched out conceivable adequacy. On being sentenced of crime and denied their freedom as per procedure established by law. Article 21, has set out a new constitutional and prison jurisprudence.

In M.H. Hoskot v. State of Maharashtra[8], the Supreme Court said free legal aid and right to appeal are fundamental rights.  Providing free legal aid is the duty of state as it is the implicit aspect of article 21, ensuring fairness and reasonableness.

By virtue of article 21 rights to have a speedy and fair trial became the core principle of the criminal justice system. In the case Hussainara Khatoon v. Home Secretary State of Bihar[9], Supreme Court held that detention of under-trial prisoner for a longer period is the violation of their fundamental right. In Zahira Habibullah Sheikh v. State of Gujarat[10], the apex court held that that right to free and fair trial not only to the accused but also to the victims, their family members and relatives, and society at large. Section 260 empowers the court of law to dispose of the case summarily in certain circumstances for the purpose of speedy trial.

In the case of Babu Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh[11], Supreme Court held that right to bail is fundamental right and denial to this right would amount to the violation of a right to liberty guaranteed under article 21, protecting this fundamental right, right to bail was incorporated in Cr.P.C under section 437[12].

Article 20(2) of the constitution provides that no one should be prosecuted for the same offense more than once, this fundamental right works as the basic principle for the criminal justice system. Under section 300 of Cr.P.C, 1973[13] this fundamental right is incorporated for the purpose of securing the fundamental right mentioned above.

Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution protects person to be the witness against himself. “No person accused of any offense shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.” In the Criminal procedure code, the legislature has protected the citizen’s right against self–incrimination under section 161(2)[14], which states that “every person is bound to answer truthfully all the question, other than questions to which would have a tendency to expose that person to a criminal charge, penalty or forfeiture.”

Conclusion

Now  after, all the above-mentioned provisions we can clearly see that how fundamental rights are positioned at the core of criminal justice, with every provision we can see that criminal law provisions are strongly and sensibly protecting the fundamental rights of people

The importance of the right of access to justice for those interacting with the criminal justice system as complainants, suspects, status offenders or prisoners cannot be over-emphasised. As already stated, it is perhaps the most essential of all human rights in the criminal justice system. The extent to which human rights are respected and protected within the context of its criminal proceedings is an important measure of society’s civilization. By and large, the Supreme Court has, through progressive and humanistic interpretation, enlarged the rights of the suspect and the accused with a view to protecting the interest of the innocent and preventing abused or misuse of police powers. Of course, the development of law by the Supreme Court in this direction has evoked criticism from certain quarters but this criticism is not based on any empirical research. It proceeds on a pre-conceived notion that any protection given to a suspect or accused is bound to injure the interest of the society by encouraging crime and making its detection difficult, if not possible. [15]


[1] INDIA CONST., art. 20. Available at- https://indiankanoon.org/doc/655638/.

[2] INDIA CONST., ART. 22. Available at- https://indiankanoon.org/doc/581566/#:~:text=22.,legal%20practitioner%20of%20his%20choice.

[3] INDIA CONST., ART. 22(2).

[4]Universal Declaration of Human Rights, art.10. Available at- https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/#:~:text=Article%2010.,any%20criminal%20charge%20against%20him..

[5] Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Concluding Observations of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, E/C.12/BIH/CO/1 (24 January 2006) paragraph 5,

[6] INDIA CONST., ART. 21.

[7] 1978 AIR 597.

[8] 1978 AIR 1548.

[9] 1979 AIR 1369.

[10] (2004) 4 SCC 158.

[11] 1965 AIR 1467.

[12] Criminal Procedure Code, Section 437, Acts of Parliament (India).

[13] Criminal Procedure Code, Section 300, Acts of Parliament (India).

[14] Criminal Procedure Code, Section 161 (2), Acts of Parliament (India).

[15] Shruti Chowdhary, Indian Criminal Justice System and Human Rights, International Journal of Advance Research and Development. Available at- https://www.ijarnd.com/manuscripts/v3i1/V3I1-1206.pdf.