By – Advocate Shipra Arora,
The purpose of this research is to identify the principle of “autrefois convict” called Double Jeopardy. Double Jeopardy is a legal term and many people are familiar to this term & its definition that a person can not punished for the same offence more than once. But this project highlights those questions, which may arise in the mind of the readers, when they are discussing about Double Jeopardy. Because these questions clicked to my mind too and I thought that, Is there more to know about Double Jeopardy than not to punished for the same offence more than once? What are the exceptions of the rule of Double Jeopardy? And also, can an accused be actually punished twice for the same offence in India?
Fundamental right which is guaranteed under Article 20(2) of Constitution of India incorporates the principles of “autrefois convict” or Double jeopardy which means that person must not be punished twice for the offence. Doctrine against Double Jeopardy embodies in English common law’s maxim ‘nemo debet bis vexari, si constat curice quod sit pro una iti eadem causa” (no man shall be punished twice, if it appears to the court that it is for one and the same cause). It also follows the “audi alterum partem rule” which means that no person can be punished for the same offence more than ones. And if a person is punished twice for the same offence it is termed Double jeopardy.1.1 Meaning of Jeopardy
The word Jeopardy refers to the “danger” of conviction that an accused person is subjected to when one trial for an criminal offence. 1.2 Meaning of Double Jeopardy
The act of putting a person through a second trial of an offence for which he or she has already been prosecuted or convicted. This means that if a person is prosecuted or convicted ones cannot be punished again for that criminal act. And if a person is indicated again for the same offence in the court then he has the plea of Double Jeopardy as a valid defense.
II. Indian Law And Double Jeopardy
And section 403(1) of (the old) CrPC,1898 (Section 300 of the amended Criminal Procedure Code,1973) , which states, 300(1) a person who has once been tried by a court of competent jurisdiction for an offence and convicted or acquitted of offence shall, while such conviction or acquittal remains in force, not to be liable to be tried again for the same offence, nor on the same facts for any other offence for which a different charge from the one made against him might have been under sub- section (1) of the section 221 or for sub-section (2) there of. It is to be noted that, the Code of Criminal procedure recognize both the pleas of autrefois acquit as well as autrefois convict. The conditions which should be satisfied for raising either of the plea under the Code are: firstly; that there should be previous conviction or acquittal, secondly; the conviction or acquittal must be by be a court of competent jurisdiction, and thirdly; the subsequent proceeding must be for the same offence. The expression “same offence” shows that the offence for which the accused shall be tried and the offence for which he is again being tried must be identical, and based on the same set of facts.
Section 71 of IPC runs as- limits of punishment of offence made up of several offences where anything which is an offence is made up of parts is itself an offence, the offender shall not be punished of more than one of such his offences, unless it be so expressly provided.
III. Constitutional Implication
Article 20 of the Indian Constitution provides protection in respect of conviction for offences, and article 20(2) contains the rule against double jeopardy which says that “no person shall be prosecuted or punished for the same offence more than once.” The protection under clause (2) of Article 20 of Constitution of India is narrower than the American and British laws against Double Jeopardy.
Under the American and British Constitution the protection against Double Jeopardy is given for the second prosecution for the same offence irrespective of whether an accused was acquitted or convicted in the first trial. But under Article 20(2) the protection against double punishment is given only when the accused has not only been ‘prosecuted’ but also ‘punished’, and is sought to be prosecuted second time for the same offence. The use of the word ‘prosecution’ thus limits the scope of the protection under clause (1) ofArticle 20. If there is no punishment for the offence as a result of the prosecution clause (2) of the article 20 has no application and an appeal against acquittal, if provided by the procedure is in substance a continuance of the prosecution.
IV. Can Different Charge Is Laid For The Same Action Or Same Offence?
There are some examples of cited cases mentioned below which throw light on the above question:
In Venkataraman v. Union of India, An enquiry was made before the enquiry commissioner on the appellant under the Public Service Enquiry Act,1960 & as a result, he was dismissed from the service. He was later on, charged for committed the offence under Indian Penal Code & the Prevention of Corruption Act. The court held that the proceeding held by the enquiry commissioner was only a mere enquiry & did not amount to a prosecution for an offence. Hence, the second prosecution did not attract the doctrine of Double Jeopardy or protection guaranteed under Fundamental Right Article 20 (2).
It is to be noted that Article 20 (2) will applicable only where punishment is for the same offence, In Leo Roy v. Superintendent District Jail, The Court held: if the offences are distinct the rule of Double Jeopardy will not apply. Thus, where a person was prosecuted and punished under sea customs act, and was later on prosecuted under the Indian Penal Code for criminal conspiracy, it was held that second prosecution was not barred since it was not for the same offence.
In Roshan Lal & ors v. State of Punjab,  The accused had disappeared the evidence of two separate offences under section 330 & section 348 Indian Penal Code. So, it was held by the court that the accused was liable to be convicted for two separate sentences.
In this case, the appellants were charged under section 409 IPC & Section 5 of the prevention of Corruption Act,1947 for making false panchnama in which they have shown recovery of 90 gold biscuits while according to the prosecution case, they had recovered 99 gold biscuits. The appellants were tried for the same & acquitted. The appellants were again tried for the offence under section 120-B of Indian Penal Code, Section 135 & 136 of the Customs Act, Section 85 of the Gold (control) Act & Section 23(1-A) of FERA and Section 5 of Import Export (control) Act,1947. The validity of the subsequent prosecution was challenged by the appellant by the appellant on the ground that it contravened the constitutional guaranteed embodied in Article 20(2). The court held: “After giving our careful consideration to the facts and circumstances of the case and the submissions made by the learned counsel for the respective parties, it appears to us that the ingredients of the offences for which the appellants were charged in the first trial are entirely different. The second trial with which we are concerned in this appeal, envisages a different fact- situation and the enquiry for finding out constituting offences under the Customs Act and the Gold (Control) Act in the second trial is of a different nature. Not only the ingredients of offences in the previous and the second trial are different, the factual foundation of the first trial and such foundation for the second trial is also not indented (sic). Accordingly, the second trial was not barred under Section 403 CrPC OF 1898 as alleged by the appellants.”
In Union of India & Anr. v. P.D. Yadav, In this case, the pension of the officer, who was convicted by a Court-Martial, had been forfeited. The court held: “This principle is embodied in the well-known maxim nemo debet bis vexari si constat curiae quod sit pro una et eadem causa, meaning no one ought to be vexed twice if it appears to the court that it is for one and the same cause. Doctrine of Double Jeopardy is a protection against prosecution twice for the same offence. Under Article 20-22 of the IndianConstitution, provisions are made relating to personal liberty of citizens and others offences such as criminal breach of trust, misappropriation, cheating, defamation etc., may give rise to prosecution on criminal side and also for action in civil court/ other forum for recovery of money by way of damages etc., unless there is a bar created by law. In the proceedings before General Court Martial, a person is tried for an offence of misconduct and whereas in passing order under Regulation 16 (a) for forfeiting pension, a person is not tried for the same offence of misconduct after the punishment is imposed for a proven misconduct by the General Court Martial resulting in cashiering, dismissing or removing from service. Only further action is taken under Regulation 16 (a) are entirely different. Hence, there is no question of applying principle of Double Jeopardy to the present cases.”
In Jitendra Panchal v. Intelligence Officer N.C.B., 17th October, 2002, officers of the US Drug Enforcement Agency, along with officers of the Narcotics Bureau, India, seized a consignment of 1243 pounds equivalent to 565.2 Kgs. of Hashish in Newark, USA. During the investigation, it appears to have transpired that one Niranjan Shah and the appellant were engaged in trafficking Hashish out of India into the USA and Europe and that the seized contraband had been smuggled out of India by the appellant and the said Niranjan Shah along with one Kishore. The appellant was arrested in Vienna in Austria by officers of the Drug Enforcement Agency, USA on 5th December, 2002 and was extradited to the USA. Soon, thereafter, on 25th March, 2003, the Deputy Director General of the Narcotics Control Bureau, hereinafter referred as `the NCB’, visited the USA and recorded the appellant’s statement. Subsequently, on 9th April, 2003, officers of the NCB arrested Niranjan Shah, Kishore Joshi and Irfan Gazali in India and prosecution was launched against them in India. On 5th September, 2003, a complaint was filed by the NCB before the learned Special Judge, Mumbai, against Niranjan Shah, Kishore Joshi and two others under Sections 29/20/23/27A/24 read with Section 8(c)/12 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, hereinafter referred to as `the NDPS Act’, in connection with the above-mentioned incident. While the said Niranjan Shah and others were being proceeded with before the learned Special Judge in Mumbai, the appellant, who had been extradited to the USA, was tried before the District Court at Michigan, USA, On pleading guilty of the charge of conspiracy to possess with intention to distribute controlled substances, which is an offence under USC Controlled Substances Act, the appellant was sentenced to imprisonment on 27th June, 2006, for a total term of 54 months. After serving out the aforesaid sentence, the appellant was deported to India on 5th April, 2007, and on his arrival at New Delhi, he was arrested by officers of the NCB and was taken to Mumbai and on 10th April, 2007, he was produced before the learned Chief Metropolitan Magistrate and was remanded to judicial custody.At this juncture, it may be indicated that although the appellant could have been prosecuted for other offences under Title 21 USC, the other charges against the appellant were dropped as he had pleaded guilty to the offence of conspiring to possess controlled substances. On 25th April, 2007, on the appellant’s application that the proceedings against the appellant in India would amount to double jeopardy, the learned Special Judge, Mumbai, rejected the appellant’s contention upon holding that the charges which had been dropped against the appellant in the proceedings in the USA had not been dealt with while imposing sentence against him in the District Court of Michigan, USA. The Special Judge extended the judicial custody of the appellant and subsequently rejected his prayer for bail on 17th May, 2007.
In The State of Bombay v. S.L. Apte and anr., The Constitution Bench of this Court while dealing with the issue of double jeopardy under Article 20(2), held: “To operate as a bar the second prosecution and the consequential punishment there under, must be for “the same offence”. The crucial requirement therefore for attracting the Article is that the offences are the same i.e. they should be identical. If, however, the two offences are distinct, then notwithstanding that the allegations of facts in the two complaints might be substantially similar, the benefit of the ban cannot be invoked. It is, therefore, necessary to analyze and compare not the allegations in the two complaints but the ingredients of the two offences and see whether their identity is made out. The next point to be considered is as regards the scope of Section 26 of the General Clauses Act. Though Section 26 in its opening words refers to “the act or omission constituting an offence under two or more enactments”, the emphasis is not on the facts alleged in the two complaints but rather on the ingredients which constitute the two offences with which a person is charged. This is made clear by the concluding portion of the section which refers to “shall not be liable to be punished twice for the same offence”. If the offences are not the same but are distinct, the ban imposed by this provision also cannot be invoked.”
Here, my opinion is that, there is a need of active participation of Judges; they have to keep in mind of those offences which constitute the same offence & those too which do not. But it is clear in the study that if a person has been prosecuted for an offence but acquitted, then only he can be prosecuted for the same offence again & punished.
Author: Advocate Shipra Arora Dhiman