What is Article 20? – Protection Against Conviction for Crimes

Home » SSC & Railways » SSC » Article 20

What is Article 20? – Article 20 of the Constitution guarantees protection in the event of a criminal conviction. No one can be convicted for an act that was not an offense at the time it was committed, and no one can be punished more severely than what was provided in the law in effect at the time it was committed. Furthermore, no one can be prosecuted and punished for the same offense more than once, and no one can be forced to testify against himself or herself.

The two components of Article 20 (1).

The first component states that no one can be charged with a crime unless they engaged in behavior that was illegal or prohibited at the time the relevant law was passed. Any legislation that is in force at the time the act is committed must be followed, and those who break it must be held accountable and punished. This validates Article 20’s use of the phrase “law in force” (1).

When a law is passed after a crime has been committed, it means that whatever was legal before the law’s passage may now be deemed illegal. However, Article 20 (1) will safeguard the interests of the act and shield the perpetrator from legal repercussions.

According to Article 20’s second clause, no one is subject to a punishment greater than that which was handed down for their crime at the time it was committed (1).

No one shall be subjected to a greater penalty than what he would have already received for the prior act at that particular moment due to an ex post facto statute.

The trial is not prohibited by Article 20 (1); only the convictions or sentences are.

West Bengal State VS Kedar Nath

In this case, the Honorable Supreme Court of India observed that anytime a legislative body declares an action to be a criminal offense and/or imposes a penalty for it, it is always prospective in character and cannot be put into effect retroactively to uphold what is being claimed under Article 20(1).

Mohan Lal VS State of Rajasthan

In this case, the Narcotics, Drugs, and Psychotropic Substances Act came into play. It was argued that Article 20 simply prohibits ex post facto punishment or conviction, not the trial or prosecution itself.

Furthermore, a trial that is held according to a different procedure than what was in place when the act was done is not constrained by the same rules and cannot be ruled unconstitutional.

Punjab State vs Rattan Lal

There is an exception to this requirement for ex post facto legislation. The Apex Court ruled that criminal legislation may be put into effect retroactively if the sentence is lowered.

Double Jeopardy, Article 20(2):

This provision, which declares that “no person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offense more than once,” safeguards another key privilege. This means that after committing an offense, a person cannot be prosecuted or punished for it again. It shields the defendant from facing additional punishment or further legal action for the same criminal offense. Legislation is invalid if it imposes two penalties for the same offense.

It should be emphasized that Article 20 only protects against double punishment where the accused has already been “prosecuted” and “punished” once. This law does not prevent additional trials and convictions for a different crime, even if the two offenses share a characteristic.

Ingredients of Double Jeopardy

  • The individual should already be charged with a crime.
  • The prosecution for that crime must be ongoing.
  • That prosecution must result in punishment.

The Supreme Court stated in the case Venkataraman VS Union of India that this clause only addresses judicial penalties and established the rule that no one should be tried again for the same offence.

State of Bombay vs Maqbool Hussain

In this case, the Apex Court issued a historic decision. At the time, the accused had some lex loci gold in his possession. The gold was confiscated by the customs agents. It was questioned if this constituted double jeopardy when he was eventually charged with the crime and appeared in court. The Customs Authority’s processes, according to the Court, are not analogous to those of any court or tribunal. It was decided that the departmental proceedings are separate from and independent of those of the judicial court.

Right not to be used against oneself, Article 20(3)

What is the meaning of Article 20(3) of the constitution? The accused cannot be forced to testify against himself under Article 20(3). There is always a way to fight against being physically or mentally forced to do something, even during the legal process. It’s crucial to keep in mind that protection only applies to private information. Things like a watch, thumbprint or a blood sample that can be physically manifested are excluded.

Ingredients: If the requirements specified below are met, protection under Article 20(3) is granted.

  • Under Clause 3 of Article 20, the person must be “accused of an offense” in order to be protected.
  • It is forbidden to force witnesses into giving testimony. He must testify “against himself” because he is required to do so.

Satish Chandra VS M.P. Sharma

In this case, it was decided that the term “Witness” refers to both oral and written testimony. Authorities are free to conduct a search anywhere they like and seize any document. Any details the accused freely offers are acceptable.

Maneck VS Narayanlal

In this case, it was decided that in order to invoke the prohibition on self-incrimination, a formal accusation against the person was necessary. This rule cannot be used if just broad investigations and inquiries are made.

In Nandini Satpathy VS P.L. Dani, the appellant, a former chief minister was called to the vigilance police station for questioning on a charge made against her under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947. Throughout the investigation, she was given a long list of written questions, to which she refused to reply and argued that she was entitled to protection under Article 20. (3).

The Supreme Court found that Article 20(3)’s purpose is to shield the accused from unjustified police harassment and that the right against self-incrimination is available to both the witness and the accused in the same way and is relevant at every step where information is presented. Article 20(3) privilege is in force when the information is first used in a police investigation.

Bottom Line:

The purpose of Article 20 is to protect citizens from the Authorities’ unnecessary actions. It protects against legislative, executive, and judicial operations because Parliament is not allowed to make laws that have passed their effective dates, and the Executive is not allowed to harass anyone or make any accusations without cause. Multiple defendants cannot be charged with the same offense by the legal system. Whether the accused is an Indian or a foreigner, they are afforded this protection.

Frequently Asked Question:

What does Article 20 of the Human Rights imply?

Article 20
1) You have the right to connect peacefully with others and to be with whomever you choose.
2) No one has the authority to compel you to join or belong to any group.

What is the plain language of the 20th Amendment?

The terms of the President and Vice President end at noon on January 20th, and the terms of Senators and Representatives end at noon on January 3rd, of the years in which their terms would have ended if this article had not been enacted. At that point, the terms of their successors begin.

What is the distinction between Articles 20 and 21?

ARTICLE 20. Any person who, contrary to the law, willfully or negligently causes damage to another must compensate the latter. ARTICLE 21. Any person who willfully causes loss or injury to another in a way that is contrary to morals, good customs, or public policy must compensate the latter for the loss or injury.

Is it possible to suspend Article 20?

Following the 44th Amendment Act, the Court agreed that no one can be deprived of his right to life and personal liberty in any case. As a result, even in an emergency, Articles 20 and 21 cannot be suspended.

What are the three Article 20 clauses?

The three Article 20 clauses are.
1. The right against self-incrimination
2. Double jeopardy, and
3. Ex post facto law

What is the name of Amendment 20?

The 20th Amendment, commonly referred to as the “Lame Duck Amendment,” was created to shorten the unreasonably long period of time that a lost president or member of Congress would remain to serve after losing their campaign for reelection.


Download 500+ Free Ebooks (Limited Offer)👉👉