THREE PRINCIPLES OF CRIMINAL JURISPRUDENCE
Crime is an event in real life and is the product of interplay of different human emotions, as has been observed in Kali Ram vs State Of Himachal Pradesh, 1973 AIR 2773.In a criminal trial, accused is presumed to be innocent. This is a general rule of evidence. The sound Latin maxim, Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat indicates that the burden of proof is on he who asserts, not on he who denies. The Evidence Act does not contemplate that the accused should prove his case with the same strictness and rigour as the prosecution is required to prove a criminal charge. Articles 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, “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.”.
Basically, there are three cardinal principles of criminal jurisprudence. Those are: 1. prosecution to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt ; 2. the accused must be presumed to be innocent; and 3. the onus of the prosecution never shifts. In a criminal trial it is not at all obligatory on the accused to produce evidence in support of his defence and for the purpose of proving his version he can rely on the admissions made by prosecution witnesses or on the documents filed by the prosecution. As was held in Dahyabhai Chhaganbhai Thakker vs State Of Gujarat: 1964 AIR 1563, 1964 SCR (7) 361, there is no conflict between the general burden to prove the guilt beyond reasonable doubt, which is always on the prosecution and which never shifts, and the special burden that rests on the accused to make out his defence of insanity.
As was observed in Rabindra Kumar Dey vs State Of Orissa : 1977 AIR 170, 1977 SCR (1) 439, (Also see: Jaikrishnadas Manohardas Desai and Anr. v. State of Bombay,  3 S.C.R. 319. 324 ), three principles of criminal jurisprudence which are well settled are as under:
(i) that the onus ties affirmatively on the
prosecution to prove its case beyond reasonable
doubt and it cannot derive any benefit from weak-
ness or falsity of the defence version while prov-
ing its case;
(ii) that in a criminal trial the accused must
be presumed to be innocent until he is proved to be
(iii) that the onus of the prosecution never
Similarly, the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in the case of Sunil Kumar Sharma vs State (Cbi): 139 (2007) DLT 407, I (2007) DMC 654, it was observed that three cardinal principles of criminal jurisprudence are well settled and they are as follows: i) that the onus lies affirmatively on the prosecution to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and it cannot derive any benefit from weakness or falsity of the defense version while proving its case; ii) that in a criminal trial the accused must be presumed to be innocent unless he is proved to be guilty; and iii) that the onus of the prosecution shifts.
THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE ITS CASE BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT:-
In the case of Dharam Das Wadhwani vs State Of Uttar Pradesh, 1975 AIR 241, the Hon’ble Supreme Court pointed out as follows:- ‘The rule of benefits of reasonable doubt does not imply a frail willow bending to every whif of hesitancy. Judges are made of sterner stuff and must take a practical view of legitimate inferences flowing from evidence, circumstantial or direct.’ As has been held in Kali Ram vs State Of Himachal Pradesh, 1973 AIR 2773, one of the cardinal principles which has always to be kept in view in our system (1) Cr. App.Ho.26 of 1970 decided on August 27, 1973 of administration of justice for criminal cases is that a person arraigned as an accused is presumed to be innocent unless that presumption is rebutted by the prosecution by production of evidence as may show him to be guilty of the offence with which he is charged. The burden of proving the guilt of the accused is upon the prosecution and unless it relieves itself of that burden, the courts cannot record a finding of the guilt of the accused.’ There is needless to refer to all rulings in this article inasmuch as there are catena of rulings as to this principle of law.
The Law Commission of India, forty-seventh report on the trial and puni$i-iiment of social and ecqnomeiii offences, It was observed that ‘As has been observed’—-“No rule of criminal law is of more importance “than that which requires the prosecution to prove the accused’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. In the ﬁrst place this means that it is for the prosecution to prove the defendants guilt and not for the latter to establish his innocence ; he is presumed innocent until the contrary is proved. Secondly, they must satisfy the jury of his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.’
In 2014, the Hon’ble Apex Court reiterated this general principle of proving case of prosecution beyond reasonable doubt in the following cases,
1. Puran Chand vs State Of H.P
2. Ashok Debbarma @ Achak Debbarma vs State Of Tripura
3. Joshinder Yadav vs State Of Bihar
4. Nallabothu Ramulu @ Setharamaiah … vs State Of A.P
5. State Of Gujarat vs Kishanbhai
6. Prakash vs State Of Karnataka
7. State Of Rajasthan vs Manoj Kumar
8. Basappa vs State Of Karnataka
9. Birju vs State Of M.P
10. Ramesh Vithal Patil vs State Of Karnataka & Ors
THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE:-
As was held by the Hon’ble High Court of Andhra Pradesh in the case of Katcherla Venkata Sunil vs Dr. Vanguri Seshumamba And Ors: 2008 CriLJ 853, the presumption of innocence is available to him under the fundamental principle of criminal jurisprudence that every person shall be presumed to be innocent unless he is proved guilty by a competent court of law. It was held in Maneka Sanjay Gandhi V. Rani Jethmalani that assurance of a fair trial is the first imperative of the dispensation of justice and the central criterion for the Court to consider when a motion for transfer is made is not the hypersensitivity or relative convenience of a party or availability of legal services or any like grievance. In Abdul Nazar Madani V. State of T.N the Apex Court stated that the purpose of the criminal trial is to dispense fair and impartial justice uninfluenced by extraneous considerations. The apprehension of not getting a fair and impartial inquiry or trial is required to be reasonable and not imaginary based upon conjectures and surmises.
Recently, in 2015, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India applied this general rule of ‘presumption of innocence ‘ in the following cases. 1. Vinod Kumar vs State Of Haryana; 2. Sher Singh @ Partapa vs State Of Haryana; 3.Ajay Kumar Choudhary vs Union Of India; 4. Inder Singh & Ors vs State Of Rajasthan; 5.Raja @ Rajinder vs State Of Haryana; 6.Mohan Lal vs State Of Rajasthan; 7.Pawan Kumar @ Monu Mittal vs State Of U.P. & Anr; 8. Bhim Singh & Anr vs State Of Uttarakhand 9. Rajinder Singh vs State Of Punjab; and 10. Jivendra Kumar vs Jaidrath Singh & Ors.
THE ONUS OF THE PROSECUTION NEVER SHIFTS.
As was held by the Hon’ble Apex Court in C.M.Girish Babu vs Cbi, Cochin, High Court Of Kerala, the onus of proof lying upon the accused person is to prove his case by a preponderance of probability. As soon as he succeeds in doing so, the burden shifts toprosecution which still has to discharge its original onus that never shifts, i.e.; that of establishing on the whole case the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt.” (See Jhangan Vs. State 1966 (3) SCR 736). It was observed in John Manjooran vs C.M. Stephen And Ors, 1973 CriLJ 1722, basically, the original onus never shifts and the prosecution has. at all stages of the case, to prove the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. To know more please refer to the ruling Rabindra Kumar Dey vs State Of Orissa : 1977 AIR 170, 1977 SCR (1) 439, and Jaikrishnadas Manohardas Desai and Anr. v. State of Bombay,  3 S.C.R. 319. 324 ).
THE DOCTRINE OF BURDEN OF PROOF:-
As was observed in Dahyabhai Chhaganbhai Thakker vs State Of Gujarat: 1964 AIR 1563, 1964 SCR (7) 361, the doctrine of burden of proof in the context of the
plea of insanity may be stated in the following propositions:
(1).The prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused had committed the offence with the requisite, mensrea; and the burden of proving that always rests on the prosecution from the beginning to the end of the trial.
(2) There is a rebuttable presumption that the accused was not insane, when he committed the crime, in the sense laid down by s. 84 of the Indian Penal Code: the accused may rebut it by placing before the court all the relevant evidence-oral, documentary or circumstantial, but the burden of proof upon him is no higher than that which rests upon a party to civil proceedings.
(3) Even if the accused was not able to establish conclusively that he was insane at the time he committed the offence, the evidence placed before the court by the accused or by the prosecution may raise a reasonable doubt in the mind of the court as regards one or more of the ingredients of the offence, including mens rea of the accused and in that case the court would be entitled to acquit the accused on the ground that the general burden of proof resting on the prosecution was not discharged.
In the case of Rabindra Kumar Dey vs State Of Orissa, Equivalent citations: 1977 AIR 170, 1977 SCR (1) 439, it was observed that under section 105 of the Evidence Act the onus of proving exceptions mentioned in the Indian Penal Code lieson the accused but the said section does not at all indicate the nature and the standard of proof required. It is suffi-cient if the, accused is able to prove his case by thestandard of preponderance of probabilities as envisaged by section 5 of the Evidence Act.
It was observed in Rabindra Kumar Dey vs State Of Orissa: 1977 AIR 170, 1977 SCR (1) 439 (see also: Harbhajan Singh v. State of Punjab,  3 SCR 235, 241 and State of U.P. v. Ram Swarup & Anr.  1 S.C.R. 409, 416-17)
The accused succeeds if the probability of his version
throws doubt on the presecution case. He need not prove his
case to the hilt. It is sufficient for the defence to give
a version which competes in probability with the prosecution
version for that would be sufficient to throw suspicion on
the prosecution case entailing its rejection by the court.
EXCEPTION TO GENERAL PRINCIPLES:-
In Harbha- jan Singh v. State of Punjab ((  3 S.C.R. 235, 241 ) the Hon’ble Apex Court observed as follows:
“But the question which often arises and has been frequently considered by judicial decisions is whether the nature and extent of the onus of proof placed on an accused person who claims the benefit of an Exception is exactly the same as the nature and extent of the onus placed on the prosecution in a criminal case; and there is consensus of judicial opinion in favour of the view that where the burden of an issue lies upon the accused, he is not re- quired to discharge that burden by leading evidence to prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt. That, no doubt, is the test prescribed while deciding whether the prosecution has discharged its onus to prove the guilt of the accused; but that is not a test which can be applied to an accused person who seeks to prove substantially his claim that his case falls under an Exception. Where an accused person is called upon to prove that his case fails under an Exception, law treats the onus as dis- charged if the accused person succeeds “in proving a preponderance of probability.” As soon as the preponderance of probability is proved, the burden shifts to. the prosecution which has still to discharge its original onus. It must be remembered that basically, the original onus never shifts and the prosecution has, at all stages of the case, to prove the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The concept of “reasonable doubt” as a standard requirement in criminal jurisprudence. In 1935, in the case of Woolmington Vs.DPP, (1935) UKHL Page 1, the principle of ‘proof beyond all reasonable doubt’ was expounded. To convict an accused, it is the duty of the prosecution to establish his guilt beyond all reasonable doubt. Such reasonable doubt is logically connected to the evidence or absence of evidence on the face of record. Only reasonable doubt favours accused but not all doubts. The burden of prosecution never shifts in a criminal case. Whenever a reasonable doubt appears on the face of record, it goes to accused. ‘Benefit of doubt’ is a right of accused. Although accused is presumed to be innocent; and his guilt must be proved beyond all reasonable doubt, these principles are not aware of to most of the villagers in India. I suggest that more ‘films’ on this concept be released to create awaness of the rights of accused. In 2014, a Canadian Crime thriller movie was released in abroad with a title ‘Reasonable Doubt ’. This film is known as ‘The Good Samaritan’. To sum up, in short, Information Technology must widely be used to create awareness to the people as all the rights of accused. Wide Publication must be given as to the rights of accused to create awareness in the public. The concept of proof beyond a reasonable doubt is based on reason and common sense. It is never based upon sympathy or prejudice.
Really criminal learning article
It is a treasure of information on Criminal Jurisprudence…thank you sir for the effort
very helpful to the criminal lawyers …to understand the criminal jurisprudence !!!
Nice legal article !! Thank for it.
All the articles including this one are great treasures for the aspirants of the judicial exams. Thank you, and hatsoff to you, Sir.
[…] A person in custody of the police, an under-trial or a convicted individual does not lose his human and fundamental rights by virtue of incarceration. The two cardinal principles of criminal jurisprudence are that the prosecution must prove its charge against the accused beyond the shadow of reasonable doubt and the onus to prove the guilt of the accused to the hilt is stationary on the prosecution and it never shifts. The prosecution has to stand on its own legs so as to bring home the guilt of the accused conclusively and affirmatively and it cannot take advantage of any weakness in the defense version. The intention of the legislature in laying down these principles has been that hundreds of guilty persons may get scot free but even one innocent should not be punished. Indian Constitution itself provides some basic rights/safeguards to the accused persons which are too followed by the authorities during the process of criminal administration of justice. There is a famous saying in the Criminal Law jurisprudence, […]
excellent article helpful for reference for law students
Bhadriraju L N
The Article on the cardinal principles of Criminal Jurisprudence, is very affirmative and useful for the aspirants who really practice law to be known as the best lawyers in practice.