Shri D.K. Basu vs State of West Bengal

Bench: Kuldip Singh, A.S. Anand

Citation: (1997) 1 SCC 416


There was an observable increase in number of ‘Use of 3rd Degree’, Custodial Crimes and Lock-up Deaths in spite of the constitutional provisions (Article 21 and Article 22) and statutory provisions (CrPC: Sections 41, 46, 49, 50, 53, 54, 57, 167 and 176) which safeguard the personal liberty and life of a citizen. DK Basu (chairman of Legal Aid Services West Bengal), sent a letter to the Chief Justice of India addressing: The need to develop ‘Custody Jurisprudence’. The lack of and hence required, procedures to provide compensation to victims of such breach of Fundamental Rights. He requested that the letter should be treated as a writ petition, and a PIL be filed in that regard. Alongside, the custodial death of Mahesh Bihari in Aligarh: addressed in a letter by Shri A.K. Johri, was treated as a Writ Petition in the same category.

These petitions raise important issues concerning police powers, including whether monetary compensation should be awarded for established infringement of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by Articles 21 and 22 of the Constitution of India.


What are the Fundamental rights of an arrested person to reduce custodial violence.


The Supreme Court laid down the process/ certain basic requirements to be followed in all cases of arrest or detention till legal provisions are made in that behalf as a measure to prevent custodial violence.

The Guidelines for rights of accused person –

  1. The police officer carrying out the arrest should be wearing an accurate and clear identification and name tag with his designation.
  2. A memo of arrest containing the time and date of arrest should be prepared which is to be attested by at least one witness countersigned by the arrestee.
  3. Person known to him or having interest in his welfare to be informed as early as possible.
  4. The Inspection Memo must be signed both by the arrestee and the police officer
  5. The person who is being arrested should be made aware of this right to have someone informed.
  6. A medical examination needs to do every 48 hours during his detention
  7. Copies of documents should be sent to the Illaqa Magistrate.
  8. He should be permitted to meet his lawyer during interrogation.
  9. A police control room should be provided at all district and state headquarters to whom the time, place of arrest and venue of custody of an arrestee must be notified within a period of 8 to 12 hours after the arrest.