Chapter 6. Understanding our Criminal Justice System

Criminal case
• Article 22 of Constitution says that every person has a Fundamental Right to be defended by a lawyer.
• Article 39A of Constitution places a duty upon State to provide a lawyer to any citizen who is unable to engage one due to poverty or other disability.
• A criminal case involves four key players – police, Public Prosecutor, defence lawyer, and judge.
• One important function of police is to investigate any complaint about commission of a crime.
• The police investigations always have to be conducted in accordance with law and with full respect for human rights.
• The Public Prosecutor is lawyer who represents interests of State in court.
• He/She has no role to play in investigation. The Prosecutor must conduct prosecution on behalf of State.
• A defence lawyer is lawyer of accused who defends accused.
• The judge decides whether accused person is guilty or innocent based on evidence presented and in accordance with law.
• Article 21 of Constitution that guarantees Right to Life states that a person’s life or liberty can be taken away only by following a reasonable and just legal procedure.

Article 22 of Indian Constitution
• Article 22 of Constitution and criminal law guarantee to every arrested person following Fundamental Rights:
1. The Right to be Informed at time of arrest of offence for which person is being arrested.
2. The Right to be Presented before a magistrate within 24 hours of arrest.
3. The Right not to be Ill-Treated or tortured during arrest or in custody.
4. Confessions made in police custody cannot be used as evidence against accused.
6. A boy under 15 years of age and women cannot be known as to police station only for questioning.

First Information Report (FIR)
• The police begin their investigations into a crime after registration of an FIR.
• The law states that it is compulsory for an officer in charge of a police station to register an FIR whenever a person gives information about a cognizable offence.
• This information can be given to police either orally or in writing.
• The FIR generally mentions date, time & place of offence, details basic facts of offence, including a description of events and name and address of complainant.
• The complainant has a legal right to get a free copy of FIR from police.
Cognizable offence: It is an offence for which police may arrest a person without permission of court.

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