Right of an Accused to Live with Human Dignity: A Critical Analysis

Human Rights

Article 21 of the Constitution of India

The Constitution of India is the lengthiest constitution of the world and is also considered as one of the best constitutions as every small detail is written down and explained in detail in the constitution. The constitution of India provides fundamental rights to the citizens of the country which are enforceable if any person feels like his or her basic rights have been violated by anyone or anything and the courts act upon it. One such fundamental right is Right to Life which is mentioned in the article 21 of the constitution. This article covers a very wide aspects of life which includes right to live peacefully and with dignity. No matter who you’re, what your social status is how you live or what your personal or professional life is, you have the right to be treated with respect and dignity and with equality. But in reality it is not the case with people who’re accused of a criminal offense. Our society has a negative attitude towards the people who are accused of a crime and declare them as the criminal even without the case getting over or the judgement coming through. In most of the cases even though the accused is declared as innocent, the society claims the person to be an offender or the convict of the offense of which he was accused of.

The condition of an Accused

For example, if a person is accused of rape in a case, the moment people hear about this thing they will start calling the person as rapist and will boycott him or in some cases beat the person and in some rare cases beat the person so much that he died. The society and the people around the person, even the relatives of the accused treat him like a person who is a degraded person and has no place in the society. The person’s social and professional life gets ruined completely as no company hires that person as he is an accused of a criminal offense and the company’s name and reputation gets ruined when they do this. Even some government departments do not allow people who’re accused of some crime or have an FIR registered against them which totally ruins their chances of getting a government job.

Even prisoners have the right to live with dignity under the constitution. The ambit of article 21 is very wide and it even provides that the prisoners too have the right to live with dignity. A prisoner is not denied his fundamental rights for the mere reason of his conviction. He cannot be denied his rights like moving throughout the country or to the right to personal liberty etc. except for the procedures established by the law.

The same goes with the accused too, the rights of an accused gets violated on a daily basis by people and the society. The media publishes their names on newspapers with the headlines of their choices to make it look more interesting without even asking for any permission to publish their names or anything related to that because they don’t consider the person accused as the same level of human as the other people of the society are. This is a clear violation of the right to privacy of the accused and it also causes defamation to the accused as his image will get completely ruined after the judgement if he will be held innocent and even before the judgement, everyone around him will start to develop the views which the media are showing and it’ll get really difficult for the accused to survive in this situation.

Steps taken by the Judiciary

Although, the courts have been passing judgements from time to time in regard to this matter, Allahabad High Court has held that the practice of putting names of the accused persons on the flysheet board without issuance of proclamation under Section 82 of Cr.P.C. is derogatory to the concept of human dignity and privacy enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution.

A Supreme Court judgment said an accused denied anticipatory bail can, in exceptional circumstances, still be given protection from immediate arrest if his sudden incarceration by the State will plunge his personal affairs and family into crisis. The chief justice at that time said that “reality that no law or rule can possibly account for the complexities of life, and the infinite range of circumstances that may arise in the future”. An accused, besides being an accused, may also be the primary caregiver or sole breadwinner of the family. His arrest may leave his loved ones in a state of starvation and neglect. In such “exceptional” cases, courts had the power to allow an accused, while dismissing his anticipatory bail plea, to retain his personal liberty for “some time” — the shortest duration reasonably required — in order to make arrangements for his family before surrendering in the trial court.

The judiciary is considered as the protector of the fundamental rights of the citizens of the country. The courts, whenever they observe that the fundamental rights of any citizen is getting violated or if there is any such thing in the society which the courts find to be problematic in nature, they take Suo moto against that particular aspect and lays down it’s judgements on the issue. These were the few examples of the various judgements which were laid down to make things for the accused easier to some extent.

Though after all this there hasn’t been much change in the situation which has been prevailing since long. The accused is always seen as the culprit of the crime and the life of that person becomes miserable. The perfect of this is the Jasleen Kaur case which was very popular in social media some time ago where the girl (Jasleen) accused a guy (Sarvjeet Singh) of molesting her and it was later found out that it was a false molestation case. He was in every newspaper and news channels and social media and was being called a rapist and was living a life of misery. Singh, having the case registered against him, lost many job opportunities, and cannot even travel out of the city without informing the police. All this was the violation of his fundamental rights on a daily basis and the accused wasn’t able to do anything about it.

Stricter laws should be implemented regarding the protection of the accused’s right to live with dignity and respect and no opportunities should be taken out of his hands which would’ve been available to him if he weren’t an accused. Strict actions should be taken against the people who discriminate on this basis. Everyone is equal and should live in equality despite anything.

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