Stretching the scope of fundamental rights to suspected accused involved in a variety of criminal cases, the Supreme Court has said they are entitled to the sacred guarantee until they are found guilty by the court.
An accused is presumed innocent and he cannot be held guilty on the basis of suspicion however strong it may be, the top court said quashing an order passed by the Assam High Court holding an accused guilty of committing murder.
“It is equally well-settled that suspicion, howsoever, strong can never take the place of proof,” a bench headed by Justice Dalveer Bhandari said.
Raising doubts over the conduct of the police that investigated the case, the court passed stricture on the investigating agency.
However, the entire force cannot be condemned for the act of one policeman, the court added.
“There is no reason for us to generalise and say that there is an attempt not to register cases against assailants and when such cases are registered loopholes are intentionally left to facilitate acquittals or that the evidence led in the courts is deliberately distorted’’, the court said. It termed such lapses in certain cases as “aberrations’’ .
While the police force may have much to be sorry about and while there is always room for improvement in terms of infusing spirit of commitment, sincerity and selfless service towards the citizens, it cannot be said the entire force stands discredited, the bench added.
Earlier, while dealing with a case regarding the death sentence to a Parliament attack accused, another bench of the court had recently said, “human rights violation cannot be the prerogative of a few privileged as it is as much available to other deprived sections of the society and victims of violence’’.
Union home minister had told Parliament that India’s conviction rate in criminal cases is 39.02 %. The average conviction rate of crimes under the Indian Penal Code has been constant for sometime.