In 1971, Sir William Garrow expressed a straight arrow phrase 'innocent until
proven guilty' during a trial at Old Bailey. Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit,
non qui negat
states proof lies on him who asserts not on him who denies
The same principle has been vindicated as human right under UN's Universal
Declaration Of Human Rights, Article 11. It has been identified a s legal right
in countries such as France, Canada, Iran, Italy, Russia and many more.
Here in India, it is for sure a notable legal principle but when it comes to
practical implementation of this principle, there are many lawless laws
failing to fall within 'presumption of innocence principle'. I here, call these
, because they contradict some right or laws to not so reasonable
How about me walking in my backyard and boom!, a police officer comes in and
arrests me because I have been declared a terrorist
or you, still not over
your last vacation and realizing you are a terrorist now!, and what's surprising
is that you or me does not have to commit a terrorist act for being called one,
just a mere thought and presumption of the government is enough for branding us
as terrorist. The only statutory remedy available to us will be making an
application to central government for de- notification, which will ironically be
considered by a review committee constituted by government itself.
Yes, I am talking about at issue the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment
Act, 2019. The law made in 1967 has been amended twice precedent to this, first
in 2008, then 2012 with objective of making powers available for dealing with
activities directed against integrity and sovereignty of India with a vague
definition of terrorism
including non violent political protests. So,
basically this empowers official of union ministry to brand any person as
terrorist without following due procedure. It allows detention without a charge
sheet up to 180 days and police custody can be up to 30 days. It creates a
strong presumption of guilt of terrorism merely based on evidence allegedly
seized. Anticipatory bail is out of question.
Nearly 75% cases have no charge sheet filed. The act provides no safeguard
against its misuse at individual level. The official designation of a person as
'terrorist' will be akin civil death of that person with social exclusion even
if he might not be proven guilty later. This is how principle of presumption of
innocence is not satisfied. A person is official designated guilty of a crime
without even the court getting involved.
Benjamin Franklin said:
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary
Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. Is this act not violation of our
basic security as residents of country?
Presumption of innocence not only being a justice principle is also a human
right that can not be taken away. UAPA act is just one law failing to compel it,
there are several more examples ranging from long list of arrests under sedition
law to accusation under anti- terrorism law. Our country need a more deterrent
approach toward justice delivery but should it come at cost of violation of
one's human rights.
I believe presumption of innocence is one such principle of law that when
violated will only lead to miscarriage of justice. In the case of Noor Aga vs.
State of Punjab and Anr. it was held by the apex court that, though not
explicitly mentioned in the constitution, presumption of innocence is
nevertheless a potent background to the conception of justice, in preserving
confidence in enduring integrity and security of a legal system.
It can be vividly seen through many cases and laws that the principles of
presumption of innocence has been watered down at sake of public policy and
integrity of nation, but its high time for Indian judiciary to realize the
rights of accused and treat him innocent until proven guilty. Rationality should
never overpower principles of justice, never. We need a balance between both.
Court needs to take stronger steps to recognize this human right and include it
as fundamental right under article 21.
This is how 'innocent until proven guilty' is practically implemented as 'guilty
until proven innocent' and is a grave violation of human rights. We need a
justice delivery system where accused rights are not undermined and he/she is
'innocent until proven guilty'
- (20080 16 SCC 417