In light of the growing threat of terrorism, Delhi’s Commissioner of Police (CP) has written to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs stressing the need to get the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court in the D K Basu case reviewed. We explain these guidelines are and their weight under the law.
•What are the D K Basu guidelines?
Set up by the Supreme Court of India in 1996 in a case titled “D K Basu versus State of West Bengal”, they are a set of 11 guidelines that police personnel detaining or arresting any suspect or accused have to follow. In essence, the guidelines lay down the rules that the police have to follow in order to maintain transparency and not violate the fundamental rights of the arrested/detained person.
•What are the main guidelines?
The judgment lays down the manner in which a person can be detained or arrested. It says the personnel making the arrest have to bear accurate, visible and clear identification and nametags with their designations. In addition, the officer making the arrest has to prepare a memo of arrest at the time of taking an individual in police custody and get it attested by at least one witness, who has to be either a member of the family of the arrested person or a respectable person of the locality from where the arrest is made. The memo also has to be counter-signed by the person arrested along with the time and date of arrest.
The other guidelines laid down relate to:
• Informing a relative or friend of the arrested person as soon as possible about the arrest
• Making the arrested person aware of his right to have someone informed of his arrest or detention as soon as he is placed under arrest or detained.
• Making an entry in the diary at the place of detention about the arrest and particulars of the relative or friend who has been informed.
• Getting the arrested person medically examined immediately after the arrest if he asks for it or getting him examined by a doctor every 48 hours during his detention by a doctor on the panel of approved doctors appointed by Director, Health Services of the concerned state or Union Territory.
• Informing the area magistrate with details about the arrest.
• Permitting the accused to meet his lawyer during interrogation, though not throughout the interrogation.
• Setting up a control room at all district and state headquarters to give out information regarding the arrest and the place of custody of all arrested persons within 12 hours of the arrest.
•Are the guidelines mandatory and can their non-implementation be challenged in court?
Yes, since the Basu judgment still stands, these guidelines carry the weight of law. An aggrieved person can approach a court of law, either on his own or through somebody else, if the guidelines were flouted while arresting him. There have been cases of police personnel being punished for not following the guidelines while making the arrest.
•Have the guidelines been given the shape of a law?
No. But the Union Government has been working on amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code to include the guidelines in the same. However, the police in many states are opposed to this move.