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Article 20 of Indian Constitution
Protection from a conviction for crimes is provided by Article 20 of Indian Constitution. No one may be found guilty of an act that was not unlawful when it was committed, and no one may receive a sentence that is larger than the law permits at the time when the offence was committed. Additionally, no one may be required to testify against themselves or be prosecuted and punished more than once for the same offence.
It offers an accused individual, whether they are a citizen, a foreigner, or a legal person like a firm or corporation, protection from arbitrary and excessive punishment. It is available to the citizens even during emergencies. As a result, it serves as a pillar of the Indian Constitution. All people, including both Indians and foreigners, are eligible for the protections provided by Article 20 of Indian Constitution.
Read More: Right to Freedom
Article 20 of Indian Constitution Provisions
Three clauses make up Article 20 of the Indian Constitution. These three clauses address the problem of needless and undesirable activities by the legislature, executive, and implementing bodies.
Read More: Article 19 of Indian Constitution
Article 20(1) of Indian Constitution
No one may be found guilty of an offence unless they violated a law that was in effect when the offence was committed, and they cannot receive a punishment that is greater than what was allowed by the law that was in effect at the time the offence was committed.
It is one that enhances the consequences for such activities or imposes penalties retroactively, meaning on already-committed crimes. The first clause of Article 20 forbids the adoption of such a law.
Scope of Retrospective Laws
Both prospective and retroactive laws may be made by the legislature, however, retroactive laws cannot be made in criminal cases. As a result, this restriction only applies to criminal laws and not to civil or tax laws. In other words, a tax or civil liability may be imposed in the past.
Prohibition: Only the conviction or punishment under an ex-post facto criminal law is prohibited by this clause; the trial itself is not.
Preventive Detention: The immunity under this provision cannot be claimed in case of preventive detention or demanding security from a person.
Relevant Supreme Court Judgement: In Ratanlal Vs State of Punjab, 1964 case, Supreme Court opined that, if retrospective law gives benefit to the accused, then it is applicable.
Nirbhaya Case: After the gruesome gang-rape incident in Delhi, public sentiment favoured harsher punishment for all the six accused in the Nirbhaya gang-rape case. But since one of them was a minor, any revision in the juvenile age would not help the case, as such amendment shall not apply with retrospective effect.
Read about: Article 14 of Indian Constitution
Article 20(2) of Indian Constitution
Clause (2) of Article 20 of the Indian Constitution comprises the right against Double Jeopardy.
No Double Jeopardy
No one may face more than one prosecution and punishment for the same offence. Only in legal procedures before a court or judicial authority is the defence against double jeopardy applicable. However, because they are not judicial in nature, it is not available in procedures before departmental or administrative bodies. However, in order for this provision to be used, a number of requirements must be met.
Tried before by the Court: The accused or the person in question must have been tried by the court previously and it is concerned only with judicial prosecution and proceedings.
Competent Court: The court trying the case must be competent, i.e., it should act under its competent jurisdiction and shouldn’t exercise its power, Ultra Vires.
Conclusion of Proceeding: The previous proceeding must have ended in either acquittal or conviction and if it ended merely after inquiry, such cases are not covered under this.
In Force: The prior conviction or acquittal must still be in effect and cannot have been reversed through an appeal or new trial. This is a crucial need since, for example, if there were no prior convictions, a second prosecution and subsequent trial would be possible.
Tried for the Same Offence: He or she must be tried for the same offence and based on the same circumstances in the subsequent trial for any other offence that carries a different charge under the CrPC.
Read about: Article 15 of Indian Constitution
Article 20(3) of Indian Constitution
Clause (3) of Article 20 of the Indian Constitution comprises the right against self-incrimination.
No one should ever be forced to testify against themselves when they are being accused of a crime. It solely applies to criminal procedures; it has no bearing on civil or other non-criminal processes.
Read More: Article 16 of Indian Constitution
Article 20 of Indian Constitution UPSC
The intriguing finding is that Articles 20(1), 20(2), and 20(3) of the Indian Constitution protect guilty people from disproportionate legislative, judicial, and executive measures, respectively, would emerge if we bothered to analyse every clause in that article. The cornerstone of the Indian Constitution, these protections are applicable to both Indians and foreigners and guarantee basic human rights to anyone who has been convicted of or is under suspicion for a crime.
Read More: Right to Equality