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The Latin maxim “Nemo Debet Bis Vexari Pro Una Et Eadem Causa” translates to no person should be punished twice for the same offence. It embodies the well-established common law rule that no one should be put to punishment twice for the same offence. In criminal law, this Latin term is known for the rule against double jeopardy, i.e. the notion that a person should not be “vexed” or punished more than once for any particular case brought against them. In civil law, it means a person should not be sued more than once over the same case.

“Double jeopardy” refers to the protection against facing a trial or punishment more than once for the same criminal offense. It prevents the imposition of multiple punishments for the same offense.

Article 20 of the Constitution of India enshrines the protection against double jeopardy: It is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 20 (2) of the Constitution of India, which states that— “No person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offense more than once.”It prohibits the infliction of punishment to a person for the “same offense” more than once.

However there are some exceptions in which one is not protected under Article 20(2):

  1. If one and the same act of a person constitutes two different crimes, then the punishment for one offense would not bar the punishment for the other offense.
  2. If the same set of facts constitute the offenses under more than one provision of law, then it will not attract the principle of double jeopardy. In such a case, separate prosecution and punishment for such distinct offences would not be barred.
  3. If there are two separate offenses with different ingredients under two different enactments, committed by the same person, the principle of double jeopardy will not be applicable.


In SA Venkataraman vs Union of India, It was held that, to attract the provisions of Article 20 (2) of the Constitution, there must have been both prosecution and punishment in respect of the “same offense”. The words “prosecuted” and “punished” are to be taken not in unison to mean prosecution or punishment. Both the factors must coexist in order that the operation of the clause may be applied.

In Maqbool Hussain vs the State of Bombay, It was held that the test is whether the former offence and the offence now charged have the same ingredients in the sense that the facts constituting the one are sufficient to justify a conviction of the other, not that the facts relied on by the prosecution are the same in the two trials.

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