DK Basu vs. State of West Bengal:- People about 591 died in police custody in 2015, majority numbers of people are arrested and have not yet appeared before a magistrate. In 2016, government data noted 92 deaths in police custody, out of them 60 occurred before reaching the court. This shows the mockery of sections 55A and 57 of the code of criminal procedure (CrPC) which places the duties of care of the accused, and the production before a magistrate within 24 working hours, to the person in custody.

Shri DK Basu,Ashok K. Johri vs State Of West Bengal,

State Of U.P on 18 December, 1996

Bench: Kuldip Singh, A.S. Anand

DK Basu vs. State of West Bengal- 11 guidelines case while arresting a person


People about 591 died in police custody in 2015, majority numbers of people are arrested and have not yet appeared before a magistrate. In 2016, government data noted 92 deaths in police custody, out of them 60 occurred before reaching the court. This shows the mockery of sections 55A and 57 of the code of criminal procedure (CrPC) which places the duties of care of the accused, and the production before a magistrate within 24 working hours, to the person in custody.

Introduction:- DK Basu vs. State of West Bengal

DK Basu vs. State of West Bengal 1996
591 people died in police custody in 2015, in 2016 govt data recorded 92 deaths out of them 60 occurred before reaching the court

However, India has witnessed a many historical trials that have evolved and turn out our Constitution a personification of justice, fairness and good conscience. One of those lawsuits that have broadened the horizons of the meaning of fundamental rights was DK Basu V/s West Bengal State. This case analysis talks about with the seminal issue.

Constitutional and Statutory Provisions Discussed:

  • Section 46, 41, 49, 50, 53, 54, 56, 57, 167, 174 and 176 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

  • Article 21, 20(3), 22, 226 and 32 of the Constitution of India.

  • Section 201, 147, 149, 218, 220, 302, 304, 330, 331, 34 and 342 of Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860.

Facts:- DK Basu vs. State of West Bengal

DK Basu was the Executive Chairman of Legal Aid Services in West Bengal, on 26/08/1986, a non-political organization addressed a letter to the Supreme Court of India grabbing his attention to fix news published in the Telegraph Newspaper about deaths in police custody and custody.

He made request that the letter be treated as a Writ Petition within the “Public Interest Litigation”. Considering the importance of the issues discussed in the letter, it was treated as a written Petition and the Defendants were informed. While the writ petition was being considered, Mr. Ashok K. Jhohri addressed a letter to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court calling his attention to the death of Mahesh Bihari, (Aligarh) in police custody.

The same letter was treated as a Request for Writing too and was included along with D.K.Basu’s Request for Writing. On 14/08/1987 the Court passed the Order issuing notices to all state governments and a notice was also issued to the Law Commission requesting appropriate suggestions within a two month period. Several states submitted affidavits in the response against the notification, including Orissa, Assam, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, and Manipur. Additionally, Dr. A.M. Singh vi, Principal Counsel was appointed Amicus Curiae to assist the Court. All of the attorneys who have appeared provided useful assistance to the Court.


  • The Growth in incidents of Custodial Torture and Deaths by Police.
  • The arbitrary power of Policemen in arresting a person.
  • Is there any need to specify some guidelines to make an arrest of an accused?


Arguments Advanced:

Contentions of Petitioner:

  • The petitioner opined that bodily pain and mental agony suffered by a person within the four walls of a police station or confinement should be avoided. Whether it is physical or mental assault or rape in police custody, the scope of any kind of trauma experiences is beyond the scope of the law.
  • The petitioner also argued that there is a proper need for a civilized nation and that some important steps must be taken to eradicate such practices.

Contentions of Respondent:

  • The Counsel in the case DK Basu vs. State of West Bengal 18 December, 1996, representing different states and Dr. AM Singhvi presented the case and stated that “everything was fine” within their respective States, presented their respective beliefs and provided useful assistance to this Court to examine various facets of the problem and made sure that suggestions for the formulation of guidelines by this court to reduce, if not prevent, violence in custody and the relatives of those who die in custody due to torture.
  • In order of protect this important fall of the administrative wing, the State of West Bengal made an effort to convey that there is no deaths in the confinements and even if there were any, then an strict investigation should be carried out on whoever did it.
  • Counsel made highlighted efforts from the case DK Basu vs. State of West Bengal 18 December, 1996.


Ratio Decidendi:-

  • If the constitutional obligation imposed has not been fulfilled then remedies must be sought.
  • According to article 21, it guarantees the the right to life and personal liberty and also held to live with human dignity. Hence, it also establish guarantee against torture and assault by the state or its functionaries.
  • Protection against detention and arrest is guaranteed under Article 22. It provides that no individual arrested shall be detained in custody without being informed of the grounds of arrest and that arrested individuals shall not be denied the right to consult and defend themselves by a legal practitioner of their choice.
  • Article 20(3) empowers that a person accused of an offense shall not be compelled to be a witness against himself or herself.

Obiter Dicta:-

  • The hon’ble Court was of the opinion that custodial violence, including torture and death in police custody, strikes at the rule of law. Custodial violence, including torture mentally or physically and death in prisons, was considered by the court to be one of the worst crimes in a civilized society governed by the rule of law.
  • The Court observed that despite the constitutional and statutory provisions which are aimed at safeguarding the personal liberty and life of a citizen, but the growing incidence of torture and deaths in police custody has been a disturbing factor.
  • Provision relied upon made to the case of Neelabati Bahera v. State of Orissa (1993) in which the Supreme Court had held that prisoners and detainees are not deprived of their Fundamental Rights under Article 21 and only the restriction permitted by law could be imposed on the enjoyment of the Fundamental Rights of prisoners and detained.


Guidelines issued: DK Basu vs. State of West Bengal

The Court notified a list of 11 guidelines through DK Basu vs. State of West Bengal in addition to the Constitutional and Statutory Safeguards to be followed in all cases of arrest and detention. The guidelines are : –

  1. Police officer who went for the arrest and handle the interrogation of the arrested person must wear precise, visible and clear identifications and identification labels with their unambiguous designations. Details of all personnel handling the interrogations of the arrested person must be recorded in a register for the records.
  2. The police officer making the arrest of the detainee will prepare a memorandum of arrest at the time of the arrest and said memo will be witnessed by at least one witness who may be a member of the family of the arrested person or a honorable person from the locality, place where the arrest is made. It must also be signed by the prisons and must contain the time and date of the arrest.
  3. The person who has been arrested or detained at interrogation center or other confinement, shall have the right to have a friend/relative or other person known to him or who has an interest in his well-being will be informed as soon as possible.
  4. Police must mention the detainee’s time, place of detention and place of custody. The police inform the details to detainee’s next friend/relative living outside the district or city thorough the District’s legal Aid Organization and station telegraphically within the period of 8 to 12 hours after the arrest.
  5. The arrested person must be acknowledged of his right to have someone informed of his arrest or detention as soon he is put under custody or detained.
  6. Police must made an entry in the case diary at the place of detention regarding the arrest of the person of the person which shall also disclose the name of the next dear friend about place of arrest and name and particulars of the police official in whose custody the arrestee is.
  7. By making request, the detainee must be examined at the time of his arrest and major and minor injuries, if the present body, after inspection must be recorded at the time and the inspection Memo must be signed by both the detainee and the arresting police officer and a copy is provided to the arrestee.
  8. The arrestee must examine under medical team by the trained physician every 48 hours while in custody by a physician on the panel of approved physician appointed by the Director of Health Services of the State or UT(union territory) concerned.
  9. Copies of all documents like the arrest memo, must be sent to the Magistrate for the registration.
  10. The detainee may be allowed to meet with his lawyer/advocate during the interrogation, although not throughout the interrogation.
  11. A police control Room must be set up at all central district and state officers, where the arresting officer of the detained, within 12 hours after the arrest. Details must be displayed on a visible notice board in the Police control Room.

Conclusion:- DK Basu vs. State of West Bengal 18 December, 1996

This case, DK Basu vs. State of West Bengal 18 December, 1996, gave a landmark judgment where guidelines regarding the arrest of a person were prescribed, as more number of offence could be made in the name of justice. It emphasize the prevention of any infringement with the rights of an individual during detention and hence, it protects all the citizens by certain procedures established by law.

Although now, the proper procedure has been prescribed by law and anyone who does contempt of court is liable to be punished by the rule of of law, there still, crimes similar to those in the above case, for instance, police officials refuse to register an FIR, or does something due to which many innocent  person have to suffer injustice and due to which there is infringement with the fundamental rights of the citizens. Therefore, more strict laws must be made so and followed under surveillance so that innocent people have not to suffer.

In my opinion, thorough this case (DK Basu vs. State of West Bengal 18 December, 1996) , the administration of the criminal system existing in a country like India needed an effective mechanism to be followed. This case evolved as a landmark case as the guidelines issued by the bench aimed to protect the people in police-custody. It is an obligation of the State to impose the and protect the citizens; either they are accused of an offense or a normal innocent person.

The law can’t be prejudicial in its approach and can’t deny basic rights like the  dignity, right to liberty to someone who is under the police-custody. Moreover, the torturous and cruel approach  to treating an accused by the police in dealing with arrestees required a strong change. The Apex Court had to meddle in such situation and the decisions taken by the bench in DK Basu vs. State of West Bengal 18 December, 1996 were absolutely appropriate and just.

DK Basu vs. State of West Bengal, DK Basu vs. State of West Bengal,


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