1. This question has two parts – make a side heading for each part so you cover all parts of the given question. In first part discuss the provisions of Article 20 of Constitution.
In second part discuss provisions of Section 300 CrPC related to the given question.
2. Highlight the difference between Article 20 and Section 300.
3. Plan for landmark cases and recent cases on the issue
Start writing the answer with apt legal terminologies
Answer : Article 20 of the Constitution of India provides protection to accused in respect of conviction for offences. It provides protection to accused under the three different clauses of Article 20 as under:
i. Ex-post Facto law
ii. Double jeopardy
iii. Self- incrimination
Ex-post facto law is dealt under Article 20(1) of the Indian Constitution which provides for retrospective effect of punishment for the offence committed by the accused.
a) It provides that accused person would be liable for conviction in case of violation of any law which was in force at time of commission of such act amounting to an offence.
b) If the act committed by a person did not amount to an offence or violation of any law at the time of its commission then, he would not be liable for such act.
c) Accused shall be liable for only such punishment which is prescribed for the act committed/ violation of law at the time of its commission and to no greater penalty.
d) If any punishment is enhanced for the offence committed by accused post he committed that act would not have any effect on accused case i.e. post facto enhancement in imprisonment would not have retrospective application.
In landmark case of Kedar Nath v. West Bengal,(1953) the Supreme Court observed that, whenever an act is declared as a criminal offence and/or provides penalty for same by the legislature, it is always prospective in nature and can’t be implemented retrospectively to uphold what is being said under Article 20(1).
In Maru Ram v. Union of India and Anr. the Court observed that Article 20(1) also includes the rule that there will be no retrospective infliction of penalties heavier than those existing ones at the time of commencement of the offence.
Double Jeopardy as provided under Article 20(2) of the Constitution safeguards the person from double prosecution and punishment. This provision is based on the maxim, “Nemo debet bis vexari pro una et eadem causa” i.e. ‘no person can be prosecuted and punished twice for the same offence in subsequent proceedings’.
a) It provides that any person who has been already prosecuted and punished shall not be prosecuted and punished again for the same offence.
b) It simply means when one person is tried for a criminal offence and convicted will not face second trial for the same charges.
Self- incrimination is prohibited by provisions of Article 20(3). It provides that accused cannot be compelled to become a witness against himself.
The principle of self incrimination is based on the common law maxim, “nemo tenetur prodere accussare seipsum” i.e. ‘no man is bound to accuse himself’.
Protection under criminal law
Section 300 of CrPC incorporates oldest and fundamental principle of criminal justice also known as ‘protection against Double Jeopardy’.
Important points related to provisions of Section 300 of CrPC
a) Protection is available to all persons under Section 300 of CrPC including the citizens or non-citizens, Natural and artificial persons.
b) It will apply if the end result of trial is acquittal or conviction of person.
Comparison under Constitution and Criminal law
Section 300 of CrPC is based on two principles:
a) Autre fois acquit
b) Autre fois convict
Thus, application of Section 300 CrPC is wider as applies to both cases when the accused is either acquitted or convicted by Article 20(2) covers cases only where the prosecution results in conviction of the person.
In State of Tamil Nadu v. Nalini, 1999 SC, the apex court held that Section 300 of CrPC contains a bar against second trial of accused of same offence irrespective f the fact that accused was acquitted or convicted for that offence at the trial. On the other hand, Article 20(2) is narrower than Section 300 CrPC as it provides protection only if the person is convicted.