DK Basu vs. State of West Bengal: A Landmark Judgement on Custodial ViolenceCase: DK Basu vs. State of West Bengal (1997)

DK Basu vs. State of West Bengal: A Landmark Judgement on Custodial Violence

Case: DK Basu vs. State of West Bengal (1997)

Court: Supreme Court of India

Facts: This case wasn’t based on a specific incident but rather a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by DK Basu, the Executive Chairman of Legal Aid Services, West Bengal. The PIL brought to light media reports of custodial deaths and torture, urging the court to intervene and prevent such violations.

Issue: The case addressed the rampant issue of custodial violence and deaths in India. It aimed to establish safeguards for those arrested and detained by the police.

Judgement: The Supreme Court, recognizing the gravity of the situation, laid down significant guidelines to be followed during arrests and detentions. These guidelines were meant to be implemented immediately while the court awaited legislative changes.

Key Guidelines:

  • Arrest Memo: A memo detailing the reasons for arrest and time of arrest has to be prepared at the time of arrest.
  • Medical Examination: Arrested individuals must undergo a medical examination within 24 hours by a doctor not associated with the police.
  • Register Maintenance: Police stations are mandated to maintain a register to record all arrests.
  • Informing Relatives: The arrested person’s relatives or friends about the arrest and detention place needs to be intimated promptly.
  • Magisterial Enquiry: In cases of death or injury in custody, a magisterial enquiry must be conducted.

Impact: The DK Basu case is considered a landmark judgement in Indian jurisprudence. The guidelines established a much-needed framework to protect people under arrest and prevent custodial violence. These guidelines were later incorporated into the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) through the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2008.

Significance: The DK Basu judgement serves as a crucial safeguard against custodial violence in India. It empowers citizens and ensures greater police accountability.