THE CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE, 1973
Double Jeopardy : Section .300 Cr.P.C.
One fundamental principle of Criminal Law is that no person who has been accused of an offence should be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once. This principle is contained in Art.20(2) Of the Constitution and also in S.300 Cr.P.C.The origin of this is in the English Law 'Nemo debet B is Vexari' (no one shall be vexed twice). This has two coordinal rules, namely:
(a) Autre fois acquit (previous acquittal)
(b) Autre fois convict (previous conviction)
According to this if a person has been prosecuted and either convicted or acquitted, then the accused should not be tried again by any Court in India, for the same offence. In Venkata Raman Vs. Union of India, Venkataraman was subjected to a departmental inquiry and was dismissed from Central Government services on grounds of bribery. The police arrested him under 161IPC. for bribery. He contended that he should not be tried again.
The Supreme Court held that the departmental proceedings was not a prosecution and therefore he cannot get the benefit. In Maqbul Hussain Vs. State of Bombay-M was subject to an inquiry by the custom authorities who confiscated gold from him and also fined him. Held Custom proceedings were not prosecutions.According to the Supreme Court, prosecution and punishment must be read in a conjunctive sense. That is, if a person is prosecuted and punished, he should not be tried again. Hence if a person is prosecuted and acquitted, the Constitution is silent about this. But Sn.300 Cr.P.C. provides that if a person is prosecuted and convicted or acquitted he should not be tried again for the same offence.
Sn.300 provides for the following exceptions:
(i) If the lower court has no jurisdiction at all, then the rule does not apply. The accused can be tried again.
(ii) If a person is tried for a distinct and separate offense, then the rule does not apply and, with the consent of the State Government, he may be tried for a separate charge which he could have been tried in the former trial.
Ex. (a) Servant 'A' is tried on a charge of theft and is acquitted. He cannot be tried again for theft or criminal breach of trust.
(b) A is tried on a charge of murder and acquitted. It appears that there was robbery also before murder. A may be tried for robbery.
(iii) If a person is tried for an offence but subsequently if it turns out that the consequences of the act resulted in a different offence a together, the person may be tried.
Ex. (a) A causes grievous hurt and is convicted. The injured son dies in the hospital. A may be tried for culpable homicide.
(b) A is tired for culpable homicide and convicted. HE cannot tried again on the same facts for murder.
Double jeopardy benefit does not apply to execution proceedings.
What is barred is the second prosecution for the same offence on the same facts. (Sn.22l)