Understanding the Right Against Self-Incrimination and Constitutional Remedies in India

Sansar LochanConstitution of IndiaLeave a Comment

Why in News? : The Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi had filed a bail plea in the Supreme Court in relation to the excise policy case. However, the plea was rejected by the court as the Deputy CM had not exhausted all legal remedies available to him.

Instead of seeking a remedy in the High Court under Section 482 of the CrPC, the Deputy CM approached the court directly under Article 32 of the Constitution. The court stated that although in some previous cases, petitions were entertained directly under Article 32, those cases involved issues related to freedom of speech, whereas in this particular case, it was related to the Prevention of Corruption Act.

What is the Background?

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was granted custody of the Deputy Chief Minister by a Special CBI Judge earlier. The judge had concluded that the Deputy CM had failed to provide satisfactory answers to the agency. The argument that this was a violation of his right against self-incrimination was rejected by the court.

What is an Individual’s Right against Self-incrimination?

Article 20 of the Constitution provides protection against arbitrary and excessive punishment to any accused person, be it a citizen, foreigner, or legal entity such as a company or corporation.

It comprises three provisions related to ex-post-facto law, double jeopardy, and self-incrimination. According to the provision related to self-incrimination, an accused person cannot be compelled to be a witness against himself in any criminal proceedings.

This protection extends to both oral and documentary evidence. However, this provision does not apply to the compulsory production of material objects, giving thumb impression, specimen signature, blood specimens, or exhibition of the body. Moreover, this protection is only applicable to criminal proceedings and not civil proceedings or those which are not of a criminal nature.


The Constitution provides that no person can be convicted of any offense except for the violation of a law that was in force at the time the act was committed. Furthermore, no person can be subjected to a penalty greater than that prescribed by the law at the time of the commission of the act. However, this limitation only applies to criminal laws and not civil or tax laws. Additionally, this provision cannot be claimed in cases of preventive detention or demanding security from a person. Another provision under Article 20 is that no person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offense more than once, which is known as double jeopardy.

Judicial Rulings

In 2019, the Supreme Court broadened the scope of handwriting samples in Ritesh Sinha versus State of Uttar Pradesh by including voice samples. The court clarified that taking voice samples would not violate an individual’s right against self-incrimination. However, in 2010, in Selvi v State of Karnataka, the Supreme Court held that a narcoanalysis test without the accused’s consent would infringe upon their right against self-incrimination. On the other hand, the collection of a DNA sample from the accused is permitted. If an accused person refuses to provide a sample, the court may draw adverse inferences against them under Section 114 of the Evidence Act.

What is Right to approach SC under Article 32?

Article 32 of the Constitution is a fundamental feature that grants citizens the right to seek remedies from the Supreme Court to enforce their fundamental rights. The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in such matters, but this is concurrent with the jurisdiction of the high court under Article 226. It is important to note that non-fundamental rights fall outside of Article 32’s purview but may be heard under Article 226 by the high court. Although the right guaranteed by Article 32 is a fundamental right, the availability of alternative remedies does not preclude relief under Article 32. However, the Supreme Court has established that when the high court provides relief through Article 226, the aggrieved party should approach the high court first.

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