Law WeekNational

“Shut- Up!” is a Fundamental right ?

The Right To Silence, Article 20(3), Indian Constitution.

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Aayush Tiwari –

Really? Freedom of speech is a fundamental right . But But But! what is this right to silence? Is it some spiritual lawyer trying to blend law with spirituality? Enough they have heard and spoken about “My choice”, “My Life” .

Liberty, Equality and Fraternity , question paper asked in class 9th. We answered ” American Revolution’. The answer was ‘ French Revolution’ and some beating was inflicted post parent teacher meeting.

Nevertheless, what’s this right to silence?

Ok. Let’s explore. It’s interesting.

Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution my says, no one can be compelled to be a witness against himself. The right against self incrimination. So can you refuse to answer the questions put up by your manager? Nah, you might loose your job. Nevertheless with a law enforcement agency or a “court officer’ ( entitled for the same) the context arises, you have rhe ‘right to refuse’ to answer. It’s your fundamental right in existence since 17th century. Un-surfaced in 1980s, and as legal awareness is getting so pervasive , it’s reincarnated.

The jurisprudence behind this is rooted in the ‘ Miranda warning’, ( an official notification given to suspects, during the police custody or the Court Enquiry in The United States) against self incrimination. Even if you are not a lawyer or a law student, or the suspect, the logic, the philosophy behind this right is thought provoking for all.

The origin of the” right to silence’ comes from Sir Edward Coke’s confrontation with the ecclesiastical ex officio oaths. In the late 17th century, it became established in the law of England as a reaction to the excesses of the royal inquisitions. This right to silence is a reformation and a reason behind modernization we see today. This right to silence proved essential to curb Church’s Monopoly.

In India, The Supreme Court in the judgement of Nandini Satpati v.S P.L. Dani (1978(2), SCC 42 ) set the precedent under Article 141 and incubated the Right tto Silence as a fundamental right under article 20(3) of the constitution.

Yes, we know ‘Aah to technic, too legal’. So here we stop having pitched the idea as a part of our legal awareness vision for comprehensive development and prosperity of the nation.

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