Presumption of Guilt vs Presumption of Innocence

India is a signatory to UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December, 1948.

Article 11 Clause 1 of the aforesaid Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that :

“Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.”

Clearly, the UDHR mandates a presumption of innocence which means that in a trial the onus is on the accuser to prove the guilt of the accused.

In India, in a plethora of Laws enacted by the Parliament and State Legislatures especially, the Economic Legislations, this principle has been not followed. Rather, a presumption of guilt is mandated by the Law, which puts the onus on the accused to prove his innocence which is contrary to UDHR.

Further, reference is drawn to Directive Principles of State Policy in Article 51(c) of the Constitution of India states that “The State shall endeavour to … foster respect for international law and treaty obligations in the dealings of organised peoples with one another;…” which has been relied on by the Supreme Court of India to implement India’s Treaty obligations.

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