• Legis Scriptor

Features of Fair Trial

Authored By- Ayushi Patil

Keywords: Fair trial, Human Right, Accused, Indian Constitution, Proceedings, Impartial judge, Justices, Judgement


It is not possible to define how important the right to a fair trial is. Fair trial is a way to prevent miscarriages of justices because in the lack of fair trial victims will have no confidence that justices will be done. It is an essential right for an accused, an integral part of Article 21 of the Indian constitution. It is the effective protection of an individual and the article will critically analyse the features of the fair trial. It is compulsory where the accused received a fair trial in criminal proceedings. The article attempts to showcase the importance of fair trial with the principles and includes a set of principles and rules about a fair trial, where it contains pre-trial rights, post-trial rights with the conclusion and reference. Fair trial right comes under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 11. A fair trial is conducted by an independent, impartial, and competent judge where the accused should have the knowledge of the accusation. The accused has several rights like an open trial, free legal aid, speedy trial; also the trial and evidence should be taken in presence of the accused, also right to bail and protection against illegal arrest, prohibition on double jeopardy. After the post-trial, lawful punishment should be given to the accused and the right to file an appeal for the review petition. This all concepts are been explained in the article with various case laws.


One of the significances of the independent and impartial judiciary is ‘fair trial’. Everyone has the right to equality, right to a fair and public hearing against any criminal charge. ‘Lex uno ore omnesalloqutier’ which means law speaks to all through one mouth, states that everyone is equal before the eyes of the law regardless of gender, colour, religion, and disability. Indian Constitution under Article 14 promotes this equality which is known as Fair Trial.

‘Accused or not, everyone deserves a fair trial’

The basic ideology is that no one can be punished unless proved guilty or unless given a chance to express his side. The accused has the right to deal with the problem fairly in a criminal trial under this fair trial. The USA, Canada, and the UK adopted and considered it as a basic fundamental right, where the accused can defend to prove his innocence, to protect and express the same by the support of evidence. It is a security of a person that includes the right to liberty, speech, and fundamental safeguard against unlawful justice. Hence, fair trial helps and supports many accused that deserve proper justice.

Frail trials prevent miscarriages of justice and make the country safer and stronger. A fair trial should be done by an impartial judge, in a reasonable time; the speedy trials should be fair because, justice hurried could be justice buried. Moreover, it should respect ‘audi alterm partem’, which means listen to the other side, where no person should be judged without hearing both sides.

Principles of Fair Trial

1. Adversary Trial system: In this two-sided system, two advocates defend their accused and represent their parties to an impartial judge and fair judgment is given by the judge.

2. Presumption of Innocence:Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to the law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.’ The accused should be assumed to be innocent until his guilt is proved.

3. Independent, Impartial, and Competent Judge: This is the basic principle of the right to a fair trial in the proceeding of a criminal case. No man can judge in his own case Section 479 of the CrPC.

Pre-Trial Rights

1. Knowledge of Accusation: Article 22(1) of the Constitution, renders the right to be informed about the grounds of arrest as a fundamental right before the opportunity is given to the accused to defend him.

2. Right to Open Trial: The openness of the court as per section 327(1) of CrPC means parties and the public have access to records of the court. It states that judgments should be published and orally pronounced in public. Naresh Sridhar Mirajkar v. the State of Maharashtra,[1]it was held that the right to open trial must not be denied except in exceptional circumstances and the High Court has the right to prohibit publication of a part of its proceedings in some exceptional cases.

3. Right to Free Legal Aid: This right is secured by Article 39A of the Indian Constitution which provides for equal justice and free legal aid to the poor and needy. In Khatri v. the State of Bihar,[2], the Court stated that the accused is entitled to free legal service throughout the case and in all the stages of the trial.

4. Right to Speedy Trial: It is a remedy for delayed justice. The case should be solved in a reasonable time to protect the accused from unnecessary harassment. The Court in Husainara Khatoon v. the State of Bihar[3] held that speedy trial is essential in the ingredient of Article 21 of the Constitution of India recognized by the Supreme Court and procedure should ensure speedy trial to the accused.

5. The Trial in Presence of Accused: The right of the accused to be tried in his or her presence means the accused should be present in person for the trial. The case cannot be performed in the absence of the accused.

6. Evidence to be taken in Presence of the Accused: It is mandatory the proceeding and evidence about the accused should be proved or dispose of in court when the accused is personally present ensuring the right of cross-examination of the accused or the court may take evidence in the absence of the accused and the accused will appear through his counsel.

7. Protection against Illegal Arrest: According to section 57 of the Code, the arrested person should be informed the reason and grounds of his arrest by the police and should be produced before a judicial magistrate within 24hours of the arrest.

8. Right to Bail: Right to bail means the right to be released from custody. The accused must be informed of the right of bail.

9. Prohibition on Double Jeopardy: It is a fundamental right protected by the Constitution of India under Article 20(2) where a man cannot be punished for the same offence twice.

10. Right against Self-Incrimination: As per Article 20(3), no person is bound to accuse himself. No person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. In Nandani Sathpathy v. P.L. Dani,[4] it was held that where the person is required to answer all the questions truthfully excepting only those with admitting his guilt.

Post- Trial Rights

1. Lawful Punishment: Article 20(1) explains that the accused is punishable only if he is guilty and punishable under the offence. If the act is not an offence at the time of commission, it cannot be stated as offence. In Om Prakash v. State of Uttar Pradesh,[5] it was held that the accused could not be punished under Section 165A for offering the bribe in 1948 because it was held that offering bribe was not an offence in 1948.

2. Right to file an appeal: It is the right where the losing party can appeal to have a decision reviewed by another judge. Where the appeal will correct the errors by the judge and right of appeal ensures that as far as possible the court always arrives at correct decisions. Section 374 of the CrPC provides the right to appeal against convictions to the Supreme Court, High Court, and Sessions Court.


The right of a fair trial is meant to serve a social function whereas the objective behind it serves a higher purpose and values. It is said that justice should not only be done but must also be seen to be done. To create the faith of an impartial judiciary among the people it is important for judicial authority to conduct fair trials. It ensures the rule of law and the basic principle of natural justice. It is not only an essential right but also a human right that needs to be respected by nations. Many countries like the USA, Canada, the UK, and India have adopted the right to a fair trial. In India, various provisions of the Constitution and other laws like CPC, CrPC ensure a fair trial. The Right to Fair Trial not only speaks about the rights during the trial but also the rights before (pre-trial) and after (post-trial) the trial.

[1] 1966 SCR (3) 744 [2] 1981 SCC (1) 627 [3] 1979 SCR (3) 532 [4] 1978 SCR (3) 608 [5] AIR 1960 SC 409