September 17, 2021

Case Brief: DK Basu v. State of W.B

Citation- (1997) 1SCC416

Court – Supreme Court of India

Coram – Justice Kuldip Singh, Justice AS Anand

Theme: Indian Prison Reform

Subject: Constitutional law

Judgement: India


DK Basu, The Executive Chairman, Legal Aid Services, West Bengal, a non- Political organisation on 26.08.1986 addressed a letter to the Chief Justice of India drawing his attention to certain news items published in the Telegraph Newspaper regarding deaths in police lock up and custody. He requested that the letter be treated as a Writ Petition within the “Public Interest Litigation” Category. Considering the importance of the issues raised in the letter, it was treated as a Writ Petition and notice was served to the Respondents. While the Writ Petition was under consideration, one Mr. Ashok Kumar Johri addressed a letter to the Chief Justice drawing his attention to the death of one Mahesh Bihari of Pilkhana, Aligarh in Police Custody.

The same letter was also treated as a Writ Petition and was listed along with the Writ Petition of D.K.Basu. On 14.08.1987, the Court made the Order issuing notices to all the State Governments and notice was also issued to the Law Commission of India requesting suitable suggestions within a period of two months.

In response to the notice, affidavits were filed by several states including West Bengal, Orissa, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Meghalaya, Maharashtra and Manipur. Further, Dr. A.M.Singhvi, Senior Advocate was appointed as Amicus Curiae to assist the Court. All the Advocates appearing rendered useful assistance to the Court.


  1. Are there any guidelines regarding arrest by policemen?
  2. Are policemen arbitrary in arrest ?
  3. Questions of rising deaths in lockups and police custody


Dr A S Anand J was the author of the judgement,

In the judgement he prescribed eleven guidelines to be followed by the police and the concerned judicial authorities , in the absence of which may be filed the case of contempt of court….following are the above mentioned guidelines__

(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 this 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 and particulars of the police officials in whose custody the arrestee is.

(7) The arrestee should, where he 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 the 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 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.


  1. art . 21 of the constitution of india
  2. Art. 22
  3. Art. 20(3)
  4. Section 176 of the cr. pc


It was the landmark judgement which prescribed the guidelines, this case has been given as a reference by the law commission of India in its 113th report which helped in the incorporation of sec. 114-B of the Indian evidence act otherwise more injustice were committed to the innocent people of the country in the name of doing justice although now proper law has been established and anyone who does contempt of court is liable to be punished but there is a need of more strict laws to be implemented so that innocent do not suffer.

Contributed By: Arpit Pyasi (Student, Dr Harisigh Gour Central University Sagar M.P )


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