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Article 20 clause (2) provides protection against ‘double jeopardy’. It provides that “no person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once.” The clause explores the well known principle of criminology ‘sit constat curiae quod sit pro una et eadem causa’ which means that no one should be put in jeopardy twice for the same offence and is based on the common law maxim ‘nemo debet bis vexari’ which says that a man must not be put twice in peril for the same offence. This concept enshrined under article 20 clause (1) is known as the doctrine of double jeopardy.

The purpose and intent of the constitution framers behind framing this concept is to avoid harassment which shall be caused due to the successive criminal proceedings for the one and same crime.

This provision is identical with the English doctrine of autrefois convict which is also enshrined in Section 300 of the Cr.P.C., 1974 which provides that a person who have once been tried by a Court of competent jurisdiction for any offence, and convicted or acquitted of such an offence shall not be liable, whilst such conviction or acquittal remains in force, to be tried again for the same offence, nor on the same facts for any other offence for which a different charge might have been made. It implies that Section 300 of Cr.P.C. is wider than Article 20(2) of the Indian Constitution.

It means that there are two facets for the protection against double jeopardy. Firstly, it will not punish the person who has been previously convicted in respect of the same offence and secondly, it will not inquire into the person who has been acquitted on a same charge on which he is being prosecuted. The Constitution bars double punishment for the same offence.

It is further necessary to state the differences between the doctrine of double jeopardy and Issue Estoppel. The rule of issue estoppels precludes evidence being led to prove a fact in issue as regards which evidence has already been led and a specific finding recorded at an earlier criminal trial before a competent Court. The rule relates only to the admissibility of an evidence. It is also known as ‘cause of action estoppel’.



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