Case Analysis of D.k Basu Vs State of West Bengal  on 18 December, 1996

Case Analysis of the case

Court : Supreme Court of India

Bench : Kuldip Singh and Dr. A.S. Anand

Important Facts of the Case:

  • DK Basu, Executive Chairman of Legal Aid Services, West Bengal, a non-political organization on 26/08/1986 addressed a letter to the Supreme Court of India calling his attention to certain news published in the Telegraph Newspaper about deaths in police custody and custody. He requested that the letter be treated as a Writ Petition within the “Public Interest Litigation”.
  • Considering the importance of the issues raised in the letter, it was treated as a written Petition and the Defendants were notified.
  • While the writ petition was being considered, Mr. Ashok Kumar Johri addressed a letter to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court calling his attention to the death of a Mahesh Bihari from Pilkhana, Aligarh in police custody. The same letter was also treated as a Request for Writing and was included along with D.K.Basu’s Request for Writing. On 14/08/1987 the Court issued 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.
  • In response to the notification, several states submitted affidavits, including West Bengal, Orissa, Assam, 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 appeared provided useful assistance to the Court.

       Issues raised

  1. Why are crimes against persons in lockups or custody increasing day by day ?
  2. The arbitrariness of Policemen in arresting a person.
  3. Is there any need to specify some guidelines to make an arrest?   





    The learned counsel from the side of the petitioner contended that bodily pain and mental agony suffered by his client within the four walls of a police station behind the bar or confinement should be avoided. Whether it is physical assault or mental agony in police custody, the scope of trauma experienced by the persons detained is beyond the purview of the law. They further argued that a civilized nation requires the hour and some immediate steps should be taken for its eradication.


    The learned advocates representing different states and Dr. A.M.Singhvi contented that “everything was fine” within their respective states, presented above their respective beliefs and rendered useful assistance to the present Court in examining various facets of the difficulty and made certain suggestions for formulation of guidelines by this court to scale back, if not prevent, custodial violence and relatives of these who die in custody on account of torture.


        The Supreme court of India after hearing the arguments from both the parties and considering the facts of the case further Relied on Nilabati Behera vs. State of Orrisa (1993), the court ruled that any form of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatments falls under the ambit of article 21, whether it occurs during investigation, interrogation or otherwise. The rights granted to the citizens of the country by article 21 of the constitution of India cannot be denied to undertrials, convicts, detenus, and other prisoners in custody, except according to the procedure established by law by placing such reasonable restrictions on the right granted to the citizens as permitted by the law. Even after laying down all these procedural requirements in Joginder Kumar vs. the State of U.P., the court had ruled that the police arrested a person without a warrant in connection with the investigation of an offense and the arrested person has been subjected to torture to extract information or agree upon a  confession.

Supreme court gave 12 guidelines for this judgement .



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