Do you know D.K.Basu?

So, do you know D.K.Basu? Do you think he is some freedom fighter? A social activist? Someone who won some award or got some recognition? If your answer is in affirmative to any of them, then you are wrong. Rather than thinking of D.K.Basu as a person look at it from another perspective. When I say another perspective I mean look at it as “D.K.Basu v/s State of West Bengal[1]”. This case is one of the landmark judgments wherein the Supreme Court of India laid down guidelines regarding the arrest of a person.

Now the question is – why should you know the guidelines? To understand why, let’s go back to the time before the aforementioned guidelines were laid down. There’s the Police obligated to protect all the citizens, and have to do so dutifully by following the procedures established by law. However, at many instances that was not the case.

In the past and even today, though minimal, the Police have been under the lens of the media, governments and public. Why? It’s because there have been, and still are, several incidences wherein they have committed gross human rights and fundamental violations. Such violations range from refusal to register F.I.R. to filing of false charges against the accused as well the complainant to being responsible for the custodial deaths. This has led to many innocent as well as guilty persons being subjected to injustice, and they were also stripped of their dignity and personal liberty, hence violating Art.21 of the Constitution of India[2].

Such incidences occurred due to lack of or no supervision over the police. But, that all changed on a large scale when the judgment of the D.K.Basu v/s State of West Bengal[3] case was laid down with respect to arrest, detention and interrogation.

Let’s look into these guidelines to understand how:

  1. The police personnel carrying out the arrest and handling the interrogation of the arrestee should bear accurate, visible and clear identification and name tags with their designations. The particulars of all such police personnel who handle interrogation of the arrestee must be recorded in a register.
  2. That the police officer carrying out the arrest of the arrestee shall prepare a memo of arrest at the time of arrest and such memo shall be attested by at least one witness, who may either be a member of the family of the arrestee or a respectable person of the locality from where the arrest is made. It shall also be countersigned by the arrestee and shall contain the time and date of arrest.
  3. A person who has been arrested or detained and is being held in custody in a police station or interrogation centre or other lock-up, shall be entitled to have one friend or relative or other person known to him or having interest in his welfare being informed, as soon as practicable, that he has been arrested and is being detained at the particular place, unless the attesting witness of the memo of arrest is himself such a friend or a relative of the arrestee.
  4. The time, place of arrest and venue of custody of an arrestee must be notified by the police where the next friend or relative of the arrestee lives outside the district or town through the Legal Aid Organisation in the District and the police station of the area concerned telegraphically within a period of 8 to 12 hours after the arrest.
  5. The person arrested must be made aware of his right to have someone informed of his arrest or detention as soon as he is put under arrest or is detained.
  6. An entry must be made in the diary at the place of detention regarding the arrest of the person which shall also disclose the name of the next friend of the person who has been informed of the arrest and the names land particulars of the police officials in whose custody the arrestee is.
  7. The arrestee should, where he so requests, be also examined at the time of his arrest and major and minor injuries, if any present on his/her body, must be recorded at that time. The ‘Inspection Memo’ must be signed both by the arrestee and the police officer effecting the arrest and its copy provided to the arrestee.
  8. The arrestee should be subjected to medical examination by a trained doctor every 48 hours during his detention in custody by a doctor on the panel of approved doctors appointed by Director, Health Services of the State or Union Territory concerned. Director, Health Services should prepare such a panel for all tehsils and districts as well.
  9. Copies of all the documents including the memo of arrest, referred to above, should be sent to the Area (Illaqa) Magistrate for his record.
  10. The arrestee may be permitted to meet his lawyer during interrogation, though not throughout the interrogation.
  11. A police control room should be provided at all district and State headquarters, where information regarding the arrest and the place of custody of the arrestee shall be communicated by the officer causing the arrest, within 12 hours of effecting the arrest and at the police control room it should be displayed on a conspicuous notice board.

These requirements are in addition to the following other requirements:

  • The right to be informed at the time of arrest of the offence for which the person is being arrested.
  • The right to be presented before a magistrate within 24 hours of the arrest.
  • The right not to be ill-treated or tortured during arrest or in custody.
  • Confessions made in police custody cannot be used as evidence against the accused.
  • A boy under 15 years of age and women cannot be called to the police station only for questioning.

So, next time if the police comes knocking on your door, ask them, “Do you know D.K.Basu?”

[1] (1997) 1 SCC 216

[2] Right to life and personal liberty

[3] (1997) 1 SCC 216


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Headshot - Vidhya Kumarswamy

VIDHYA KUMARSWAMY

Vidhya Kumarswamy is a Law student pursuing B.B.A. LL.B. (Hons.), has a craving for knowledge and passionate about writing just as she’s a passionate foodie. Also, she’s a blogger and an Otaku.

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