This paper talks about the wrongful conviction and its effect on the people.
This paper talks about how the problem of wrongful conviction is still
prevailing in our justice system, I have tried to highlight the reasons to how
wrongful convictions can happen, and what can be the effects of it on the person
as well as his family. This paper also talks about the remedies available for a
wrongfully convicted person and how the current available remedies are not
adequate to make the person functional in the society again after his conviction
is turned over and he is released.
The very term justice has a deep meaning to it and at the same time it's very
simple too, courts are the institutions which provide this justice, it is the
responsibility of the courts to properly channelize the justice, it depends on
the courts whether the people of the country have faith in the justice system or
not. Especially in the criminal justice system where a person's life is on the
line and as well as justice needs to be done to the victim.
There is a saying that goes "justice delayed is justice denied" which basically
means that not only giving justice is enough but also giving it earliest is
required, but many of a time in pursuit of this objective There are instances
when an innocent is wrongly convicted, and the real culprit is set free. This is
called a miscarriage of Justice or wrongful conviction
Miscarriage of Justice is not a recent phenomenon but has been there since a
long time ago. There are many instances in History where innocents were punished
by the then judicial system while the main culprits were set aside. The innocent
behind bars is a "SCAPEGOAT" in the Criminal Justice System. The "SCAPEGOAT" is
punished due to the faulty Judicial Process. That fault may be from the side of
the Police or Prosecutor or the Court itself. These kinds of mis happenings
leave a very bad impression of the Criminal Judicial System on the General
Public and International Image of any Nation. Other than this it also questions
the rationality of the Courts.
A wrongful conviction is an injustice or miscarriage of justice when an innocent
person spends years behind a bar or on death row. This injustice is occurring
every day in the Indian courts. Many of the times innocent is forced to confess
for a crime which they have not committed in order to achieve swift justice in
the eye of the public. It not only leads to the wrongful conviction of the
innocent but also the real culprit is free in the outside world without any
liability for the crime he/she committed.
This paper explains why wrongful
conviction has become an important issue and a matter of grave concern in our
judicial system, the scope of the problem, its causes, and reform in the system.
Many states even after a person is proved to be wrongfully convicted and
acquitted later doesn't have a law to compensate them, only the courts have the
discretion whether to give compensation or not. A person who is wrongfully
convicted will face many problems even after getting acquitted, like mental
trauma, financial loss, social disapproval and many more. This paper focuses on
how a state can help a person wrongfully convicted and get that person back into
Statement Of Problem
Wrongful conviction in the Indian legal system is a very serious problem, and
the remedies available for a wrongfully convicted person is not enough. We will
see how a person is wrongfully convicted and whether the remedies available to
him are enough or there needs to be some changes.
- Whether the existing remedies available for a wrongfully convict enough?
- Whether there is a need for a legislation to compensate wrongfully
The current study is mainly based on data and information gathered from several
cases decided by the Supreme Court, websites, journals, etc. Doctrinal method
has been used to study and examine this research
To complete this goal of safeguarding justice, it is significant that the legal
officers and their legal service are available sufficiently to all the
distressed victims who come before the court. However, it has been observed
through the sequence of wide investigation, that mainstream of the requesters
have to pause for endless months and, sometimes years, just to start with the
appropriate trial in the courts. Hence our judiciary is not able to achieve its
functions of granting fairness to all effectively.
The constitution of India promises to all its citizens the protection of
their rights including the remedies for implementation of their rights. The
suspect person is often detained in criminal cases and put behindhand bars
for years, before the trial of his case commences in the court. Those
suspects who are illiterate or does not have the income to pay for their
surety bond have to spend at least two to five years as - undertrials in the jail.
Till the time, when their cases come to
the court for earshot, these accused have already attended the punishment for
the crime they have been detained for. Here the judiciary miscarries to defend
the rights of the citizens and the guiltless people have to pay the price for
this failure. About the subject of postponement in the clearance of cases in
India, Nani Palkhivala once said- "May I turn to the situation in India which
has the second-largest number of lawyers in the world?
While it is true that
justice is blind in our country, it is also lame. It barely manages to hobble
along. The law may or may not be an ass, but in India it is snail; it moves at a
pace that would be regarded as unduly slow in community of snails. A lawsuit,
once started in India, is the nearest thing to the eternal life ever seen on
this earth. Some have said that litigation in India is a form of fairly harmless
But, if so, it seems to be a very expensive way of keeping the
citizens 24 amused. If litigation were to be concluded in the next Olympics
India would be quite certain of winning at least one gold medal." In the case of
Motiram v. State of Madhya Pradesh.
What Is A Miscarriage Of Justice (Wrongful Conviction)?
The word 'Miscarriage' means 'Failure' whereas 'Justice' means 'Just or
righteous'. Miscarriage of Justice means when there is a failure by the Judicial
System to be right or just. There are many names to this like Wrongful
Conviction, False Conviction, Judicial error, Unfair Ruling, and many more. The
main aim and motive of the judicial system is to convict the real culprit and
acquit the innocent, if it fails to do so then it leads to miscarriage of
It is important to understand that not only the wrongful conviction is painful
but also the whole process, for instance the innocent person has to face the
social wrath and it leads in total distrust in the criminal justice system. Not
only the person getting wrongfully convicted but also the family of the person
also faces a lot of issues, like social boycott and many more.
For founding faith in the people of any country towards the legal organizations,
the truth and attitude of the criminal justice system need to be protected. This
can only be understood when the guilty are convicted and the innocents are
absolved from punishment. It is a well-known belief that searing injustice and
consequential social injury is caused when the law turns upon itself and
convicts an innocent person various fundamental principles like presumption of
innocence and other principles have been incorporated in the criminal procedural
code, to ensure that such injustice is not caused. One of such grave injustice
is when an innocent is accused of a crime, he never committed.
Cases Of Wrongful Conviction
Hussainara Khatoon &Ors vs Home Secretary, State of Bihar
This is a very famous case where many of the under trial prisoners of Bihar. A
writ petition was filed in the supreme court of India, where it was said that
many of the prisoners have been in the prison for 5 ,7 or 9 years without even
getting a fair trial in the court of law. In this case it was observed that the
prisoners from poor income background couldn't arrange for bail and had to
suffer the injustices of the criminal justice system
Mohammad Nasiruddin case
In this case a young 19year old boy was charged under Terrorist and Disruptive
Act (TADA), the sessions court found him guilty under the act. When this matter
reached to supreme court the boy was found not guilty and the supreme court
acquitted him of all the charges, but by the time he was found not guilty he had
spent 23 years of his life in jail because of false charges. He was not given
any compensation for it, even though he had spent 23 years in jail while he was
Akshardham terror attack case
In this case six men were arrested and wrongfully convicted of terror charges,
later when this case reached the apex Court they were found not guilty, but by
the time they had already spent a decade of their life in prison. Later these
six men filed a case for getting compensation for it, but the court dismissed it
on the grounds "that it will set a bad precedent". 
Vishnu Tiwari case
In this case a man was arrested under the charge of rape in the year 2001, he
spent 20 years of his life in jail, later the Allahabad High court found him
innocent and acquitted him of all charges, it turned out to be a false rape
charge for which he had to spend two decades of his life in prison.
Major Reasons For Wrongful Convictions
Mistake by Eye-witnesses- the testimony of an eye witness plays a very important
role in the criminal justice system, eye-witness's testimony is a vital part of
evidence to convict someone of the offence. In many cases the eye-witness i.e.
the victim or any other person might make a mistake in identifying the offender
and might identify an innocent person as the offender. In a report by West
Michigan University, 72% of the convictions based on eyewitnesses were
overturned after DNA testing. This shows how mistake by the eye-witness can
change or ruin a life of an innocent person.
False confessions- this is one of the major problems faced by our criminal
justice system in today's times. When a crime is committed and it draws the
attention of larger public then a pressure is built on the investigative
officers and the police to solve the case and punish the culprit as soon as
possible. In pursuit of that police uses certain methods and brutality to get
the confession from the accused, many of the times not able to tolerate and bear
the brutality, innocent person might confess to the crime which he didn't even
commit. By this an innocent person is falsely convicted and the real culprit
Systematic Biasness- when it comes to the basic notion that who might've
committed the offence, there's always a pre conceived notion that it might have
been committed by a person of a particular community. Especially color, caste,
religion and economic status of an individual plays a very important role in the
criminal justice system. There are many cases where Dalits are wrongly convicted
by the lower courts and later gets acquittal by the Higher Courts.
of them are not so privileged to approach the higher part of the Judiciary.
According to the data muslims are the highest who are in prison without any
conviction i.e. they are kept undertrial for many years.
Impact Of Wrongful Conviction
The first and foremost effect of a wrongful conviction is that the trust of a
person in the criminal justice system is shattered, the person who is wrongfully
convicted have zero confidence in the criminal justice system, which is an
alarming sign for a need for reforms in the system. When one person is
wrongfully convicted, his many generations lose confidence and doesn't have
trust in the criminal justice system. Other than this there are many impacts of
the psychological impact of being wrongfully accused of a crime was described as
extreme and long-lasting. A study found that people who had been wrongfully
convicted experienced permanent change in their personality, being anxious and
paranoid Other changes included rejection of altruism and no longer wanting to
help people and becoming hostile and mistrustful.
Along with changes in personality, they also experienced various other losses
related to their sense of self-esteem, for example loss of dignity and
credibility, loss of hope and purpose of the future.
One of the studies has found that people who had been wrongfully convicted
reported damaged reputations or feeling stigmatized by others. Another study
found that wrongfully convicted struggled with managing stigma and suspicion
from others. They also reported that many participants felt their standing in
the community had been affected negatively. People don't accept the person
wrongfully convicted even after he is found innocent, society labels them as the
culprits and even the family of the accused faces such behavior from the
How Wrongful Conviction Can Be Reduced
Wrongful conviction is a serious and growing issue in the Indian criminal
justice system, it is the duty of the judiciary to bring changes in the system
so that the wrongful convictions are reduced. In order to solve this issue, the
state has to be strictly held liable for their actions which leads to wrongful
conviction of an innocent person, for example if the police doesn't do their
work properly then it might lead to inadequate investigation and delay in the
process of trial.
The main problem is that there is no legislation for the
compensation for wrongful conviction. There is an absence of strict law to award
compensation for a person who has lost years of his life because of the criminal
justice system even though he was innocent. Our Indian constitution in Article
19 and Article 20 provides right to liberty and right to life, but these
fundamental rights are violated when a person is wrongfully convicted of a crime
which he didn't commit. the victims of justice transfer system often knock on
the doors of courts to seek redressal , judiciary over the years has grown the
compensatory jurisprudence wherein the state is levied with accountability for
the violations of human rights.
Public law remedy
The Indian constitution through chapter III which includes fundamental rights
has guaranteed right to life and liberty in Article 21 and 19 subsequently. If a
person is wrongfully convicted, then his fundamental rights have been violated,
so the person can approach the supreme court under Article 32 and High court
under Article 226 of Indian constitution.
The person can claim for compensation
in the court, countless cases have been decided by the Supreme Courts and High
Courts, however, there is no set outline for shaping the virtues of right to
compensation. Compensation as a form of public remedy for violation of
fundamental rights is not expressly provided in the Constitution of India. It is
a remedy that is single-minded on a case-to-case basis and thus is very much
reliant on the facts and conditions of each case.
Private law remedy
Wrongfully convicted person can approach the court with a civil suit for the
wrongful acts of the state administrators which is provided under Article 300 of
the Indian constitution which provides that the government of India can be
prosecuted in its title.
Criminal law remedy:
Apart from Constitutional and Civil laws, Criminal laws also provide remedies in
case of wrongful conviction. There are provisions in the Indian Penal Code 1860
and Criminal Procedure Code 1973. Chapter Nine of the Indian Penal Code 1860
deals with the offenses committed by the Public Servants. Section 166 punishes
Public Servants who disobey the laws to cause injury to other people. Section
167 deals with an issue when the Public Servant frames any incorrect document
intending to cause injury. Section 193 provides punishment for fabricating any
false evidence. It is important to note that intention (Mens Rea) is the most
From all of this we can say that wrongful conviction is a very serious issue in
our Indian criminal justice system, which is crippling our system and affecting
the faith of people in the criminal justice system, we can say from analyzing
various cases that if a person is wrongfully convicted then it will destroy his
whole life and can have many repercussions which can be irreparable in many
It can also be highlighted that the injustice of being wrongfully
convicted is most of the time suffered by marginalized communities for example,
person from economically weaker section of the society, people from lower
castes, and from minority community as well.
Even though it's a very serious
issue, we still don't have any concrete legislation to safeguard from wrongful
conviction or at least providing compensation to those who have been wrongfully
convicted. So as evolving democracy we should always keep in mind the
fundamental rights of people, we have to have a concrete legislation to
compensate people who are wrongfully convicted.
- There should be a compensation scheme
- There should be a legal mechanism by which the state can be penalized or
punished for the harm.
- There should be concrete legislation for it.
- An independent board should be established for such complaints.
Index Of Authorities
- Article 19 of Indian constitution
- Article 21 of Indian constitution
- Article 32 of Indian constitution
- Article 226 of Indian constitution
- Article 300 of Indian constitution
- Section 166 of Indian Penal Code 1860
- Section 167 of Indian Penal Code 1860
- Section 193 of Indian Penal Code 1860
- Hussainara Khatoon & Ors vs Home Secretary, State of Bihar
- Mohammad Nasiruddin case
- Akshardham terror attack case
- Vishnu Tiwari case
- Motiram v. State of Madhya Pradesh
- Hussainara Khatoon &Ors vs Home Secretary, State of Bihar 1979 AIR 1369
- Adambhai Sulemanbhai Ajmeri & Ors vs State Of Gujarat AIR 2012