The IUP Journal of Law Review
Presumption of Innocence and Burden of Proof: Revisiting Common Law Traditions

Article Details
Pub. Date : July' 2023
Product Name : The IUP Journal of Law Review
Product Type : Article
Product Code : IJLR010723
Author Name : Subhash Chandra Singh
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : Arts & Humanities
Download Format : PDF Format
No. of Pages : 27



The right to a fair trial in general and the right to be presumed innocent in particular, almost in all criminal proceedings, have been recognized as essential aspects of the rule of law. Many international, regional, and national legal regimes signify that individuals who confront criminal allegations should be considered 'innocent', until proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt. The importance and foremost role of this principle are recognized by national constitutions and criminal processes all over the world. However, there is little consensus among jurists about its meaning, scope, and application. The right to be presumed innocent in criminal proceedings is a profound constitutional component of criminal law and procedure. It is closer to providing a ground, the ground of support or shape, but this does not fairly answer why the principle of innocence exists or what kind of protection it offers to the defendants. This is especially because there is no reason why the presumption of innocence cannot be constitutional. While the principle of presumption of innocence in criminal proceedings is part of human rights and fairness, this is not what one perceives. This paper examines the meaning, importance, and application of this basic principle in the fair administration of criminal justice.


The doctrine of the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty in a criminal proceeding is a well-established principle of criminal law. However, this right has been violated extensively and repeatedly, in both developing and developed countries, and the infringement goes unchallenged. In the present times, it is witnessed that prosecutions are violating the fundamental principles of criminal law by prosecuting and convicting defendants based on accusations against them rather than proof of clear evidence. The substantive and procedural criminal law (including evidence law) of any jurisdiction is the reflection of how the criminal justice system works in that jurisdiction. The state authority, through its police power and courts, has widespread impact on the justice system while dealing with the most vulnerable group of persons. The poor as well as economically and politically marginalized defendants suffer more. In many cases, the police and other law enforcement agencies seek to use pre-trial confinement tactics to secure admissions and confessions from the arrestee.