Double jeopardy refers to a condition in which a person cannot be punished or
prosecuted for the same offense or act twice. The doctrine of double jeopardy
act as a defense that safeguards the accused person from being punished for the
same offense again. Double jeopardy doesn't permit any court or judicial
tribunal to prosecute a person more than once for the same offense.
Article 20 protects against double jeopardy no person shall be prosecuted
for the same offense more than once
. For the application of double jeopardy,
the person must be accused of an offense, the accused person must have faced
judicial trial previously, the accused must have been prosecuted or punished for
the same offense, offense committed by the accused must be the same. It is one
of the most important and integral parts of criminal law. The doctrine also
supports the concept of Audi alteram partem
which means the other side should
be listened to by the law.
The doctrine of double jeopardy protects the accused person from further
prosecution and punishments, it does not include inquiry and questioning done by
multiple organizations at same.
When a judgment is passed by a court and the same judgment is challenged in the
same court again respectively, it will be considered as double jeopardy. For
example, the judgment passed by the trial court can be challenged in a higher
court and supreme court, it cannot be challenged in trial court again.
Only judicial bodies, judicial courts, judicial tribunals come under the ambit
of double jeopardy. Administrative organization, the governmental organization
does not come under double jeopardy.
A commits a crime, after committing a crime he gets interrogated by multiple
organization such a crime branch, narcotics control bureau at the same time for
the same offense, in the above condition, it cannot be said as the case of
A has committed murder of B and robbed his house, A gets prosecuted and
punished for the murder of A, after completing the sentence, a case gets filed
against A for theft of B and he gets punished again for committing a crime,
hence it will not be considered as double jeopardy because a new case was filed
different crime, not for murder, so it doesn't come under the ambit of double
The concept of double jeopardy has been observed in many countries for a long
time. The main origin of the doctrine is from ancient roman law from the
principle of non-bis in idem which means no twice punishment should be given
for the same offense. A trace of double jeopardy was also seen in the case of Connelly v. DPP
 AC 1254, the most highlighted appeal in which the highest
court ordered, double jeopardy trials can take place in British law.
The concept of double jeopardy is seen as one of the major defenses in criminal
law in most civil law countries like Australia, Canada, The Netherlands,
Pakistan, South Africa, England, etc. in India double jeopardy is observed as a
fundamental right under Article 20 of the constitution of India.
Ball v. the United States
163 U.S :
Is one of the earliest case related
to double jeopardy. In the judgement it was discussed that, it is not
prohibition to give punishment twice, but punishment cannot be given again for
exact same offence
Monica Bedi v State of Andhra Pradesh
In this case the Apex Court ruled that a passport enrolled on fictitious name
amounted to a double jeopardy as a Portuguese court too had earlier convicted
her for owning forged passport
State of Haryana vs. Bhagwant Singh
In this case, Court held that the
prohibition under Article 20 isnot applicable to departmental proceedings
Mohammad Ali vs. Sri Ram Swaroop:
In this case Court held that in cases of
Continuing offense, each day is counted as a fresh offense and each can be
punished separately so double jeopardy doctrine is not permissible in continuing
Above mention case law discuss various conditions and application of doctrine of
double jeopardy and courts judgement
Rational behind double jeopardy
double jeopardy is considered one of the major defenses under criminal law. It
safeguards the accused person from harassment and unfair judgment. A criminal
trial and punishment put an adverse effect on the accused person's mental,
psychological health, it also affects the family of the person, financial
condition, etc. hence the doctrine of double jeopardy becomes important hence it
saves the accused from getting traumatized again.
Double jeopardy violates the fundamental rights of the accused which are
guaranteed under part III of the constitution. Hence it is not applicable in
It is always said that a person should always be given a second chance and scope
of improvement. If a person will be convicted twice for an offense, he will not
get a chance to improve and make the thing nice.
The concept of double jeopardy does not provide absolute power to judges and the
judicial system to punish an accused twice, it protects the criminal right. This
provides limited decision-making power to the court.
Double jeopardy in Indian law
- Concept of double jeopardy is mention under Article 20 of constitution of
- According to section 71of IPC, it limits the punishment to accused person,
double punishment cannot be given for single offense.
- Section 300 of CrPC also discuss concept of double jeopardy.
It is also discussed in general clause act.
Double jeopardy is a major criminal defense, it is one of the most important
doctrines of the criminal justice system. The main motive behind the doctrine of
double jeopardy is, no accused should be harassed unnecessarily. It is
considered of great importance as it is also included in 5th amendment of US
constitution. When it comes to fair justice system, accused person is also
vested with few protection under constitution. Concept of double jeopardy is
also mentioned in various international convection, treaty and laws. According
to doctrine more importance is given to human life and its basic fundamental
Concept of double jeopardy is of great importance as the criminal law is
concerned. It is discussed in Art.20 of constitution but widely discussed in
criminal law. It act as an great protection and practiced in general sense to
avoid accused from getting exploited. However for the double jeopardy certain
condition needs be full filled. It's a necessity to protect one from emotional,
physical, financial exploitation, hence the concept was introduced and being
practiced in may countries. The doctrine of double jeopardy is of great
importance in criminal administrative system.