Double Jeopardy

The roots of the doctrine against double jeopardy are to be found in the well-established maxim of the English Common law, Nemo debet bis vexari, meaning that a man must not be put twice in peril for the same offence. When a person has been convicted for an offence by a competent court, the conviction serves as a bar to any further criminal proceedings against him for the same offence. Article 20 (3) of the Indian Constitution which runs as “No person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once” contains the rule against double jeopardy. The principal was in existence in India even prior to the commencement of the Constitution but the same has now been given the status of a constitutional, rather than a mere statutory guarantee.

The word prosecution as used with the word punishment embodies the following essentials for the application of double jeopardy rule:

  • the person must be accused of an offence;
  • the proceeding or the prosecution must have taken place before a court or judicial tribunal;
  • the person must have been prosecuted and punished in the previous proceeding; and
  • the offence must be the same for which he was prosecuted and punished in the previous proceedings.