Rethinking Doctrine of ‘Fruits of Poisonous Tree’ into Indian Jurisprudence​​

Hirday Virdi
Law Centre-II, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi, India.
Ishani Mukherjee
Amity Law School, Noida, India.

Volume IV, Issue I, 2021

While there is a virtue in the blindness of justice, this should certainly not extend to the admission of evidence collected by mechanisms used in gross violations of the law and human rights. In the zeal to bring the culprits to book, the State’s functionaries may sometimes indulge in unlawful methods for obtaining evidence. The doctrine of ‘Fruits of the Poisonous Tree’ characterizes this evidence as inadmissible, which owes its discovery to evidence initially obtained in violation of a constitutional, statutory, or court-made rule. The expression of ‘Fruits of the Poisonous Tree’ extends the ‘Exclusionary Rule’ and postulates that illegally obtained evidence would be inadmissible in the Court of law. The metaphor suggests that if the source of evidence (tree) is tainted, anything derived from it (fruits) bears the same flaw. The paper explores the nuances of admitting the ‘tainted fruit’ and the position of Indian jurisprudence. It also deals with the need to offer protection against unlawfully obtained evidence against the accused under India’s Judicial system and the need to introduce reforms in view of the recognised right to privacy as a fundamental right.