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SC GUIDELINES ON RIGHTS OF THE ARRESTED PERSON

SHRI D.K. BASU, ASHOK K. JOHRI VS STATE OF WEST BENGAL

WRIT PETITION (CRL) NO. 592 OF 1987 – December 18, 1996

This petition was filed before the Supreme Court of India before the bench consisting of Honourable Justice Kuldip Singh and Honourable Justice A.S. Anand.

The Third Report of the National Police Commission in India expressed its deep concern with custodial demoralising effect with custodial torture was creating on the society. It made some very useful suggestions.

SUGGESTIONS MADE

An arrest during the investigation of a cognizable case may be considered justified in one or other of the following circumstances: –

(1) The case involves a grave offence like murder, dacoity, robbery, rape etc., and it is necessary to arrest the accused and bring his movements under restraint to infuse confidence among the terror-stricken victims.

(ii) The accused is likely to abscond and evade the processes of law.

(iii) The accused is given to violent behaviour and is likely to commit further offences unless his movements are brought under restraint.

(iv) The accused is a habitual offender and unless kept in custody he is likely to commit similar offences again. It would be desirable to insist through departmental instructions that a police officer making an arrest should also record in the case diary the reasons for making the arrest, thereby clarifying his conformity to the specified guidelines.

The recommendations of the Police Commission (supra) reflect the constitutional concomitants of the fundamental right to personal liberty and freedom. These recommendations, however, have not acquired any statutory status so far.

ABUSE OF POLICE POWER

The question of how the abuse of police power could be regulated was raised. Transparency of action and accountability perhaps are two possible safeguards which this Court must insist upon. Attention was also required to be paid to properly develop work culture, training and orientation of police force consistent with basic human values. Training methodology of the police needs restructuring. The force needs to be infused with basic human values and made sensitive to the constitutional ethos. Efforts must be made to change the attitude and approach of the police personal handling investigations so that they do not sacrifice basic human values during interrogation and do not resort to questionable form of interrogation. With a view to bring in transparency, the presence of the counsel of the arrestee at some point of time during the interrogation may deter the police from using third degree methods during interrogation.

Apart from the police, there are several other governmental authorities also like Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Directorate f Enforcement, Costal Guard, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the State Armed Police, Intelligence Agencies like the Intelligence Bureau, R.A.W, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) , CID, Tariff Police, Mounted Police and ITBP which have the power to detain a person and to interrogated him in connection with the investigation of economic offences, offences under th Essential Commodities Act,  Excise and Customs Act, Foreign Exchange Regulation Act etc. There are instances of torture and death in custody of these authorities as well, In re Death of Sawinder Singh Grover [1995 Supp (4) SCC, 450], this Court took suo moto notice of the death of Sawinder Singh Grover during his custody with the Directorate of Enforcement. After getting an enquiry conducted by the additional District Judge, which disclosed a prima facie case for investigation and prosecution, this Court directed the CBI to lodge a FIR and initiate criminal proceeding against all persons named in the report of the Additional District Judge and proceed against them. The Union of India/Directorate of Enforcement was also directed to pay sum of Rs. 2 lacs to the widow of the deceased by was of the relevant provisions of law to protect the interest of arrested persons in such cases too is a genuine need.

REQUIREMENTS TO BE FOLLOWED IN ALL CASES OF ARREST AND DETENTION

The Court felt it appropriate to issue the following requirements to be followed in all cases of arrest or detention till legal provisions are made in that behalf as preventive measures:

(1) The police personnel carrying out the arrest and handling the interrogation of the arrestee should bear accurate, visible and clear identification and name togs 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 a such memo shall be attested by at least one witness who may be either 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 counter signed 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 center 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 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 he next friend of the person who has been informed of the arrest the names and particulars of the police officials in whose custody the arrestee is. (7) The arrestee should, where he so 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 trained doctor every 48 hours during his detention in custody by a doctor on the panel of approved doctors appointed by Director, Health Services of the concerned Stare or Union Territory. Director, Health Services should prepare such a penal 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 illaga 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.

Failure to comply with the requirements herein above mentioned shall apart from rendering the concerned official liable for departmental action, also render his liable to be punished for contempt of court and the proceedings for contempt of court may be instituted in any High Court of the country, having territorial jurisdiction over the matter. The requirements, referred to above flow from Articles 21 and 22 (1) of the Constitution and need to be strictly followed. These would apply with equal force to the other governmental agencies also to which a reference has been made earlier. These requirements are in addition to the constitutional and statutory safeguards and do not detract from various other directions given by the courts from time to time in connection with the safeguarding of the rights and dignity of the arrestee.

JUDGMENT DELIVERED

Thereby, this Honourable Court after inferring the facts and circumstances of the case, delivered its judgement as under,

“Thus, to sum up, it is now a well-accepted proposition in most of the jurisdictions, that monetary or pecuniary compensation is an appropriate and indeed an effective and sometimes perhaps the only suitable remedy for redressal of the established infringement of the fundamental right to life of a citizen by the public servants and the State is vicariously liable for their acts. The claim of the citizen is based on the principle of strict liability to which the defence of sovereign immunity is not available and the citizen must revive the amount of compensation from the State, which shall have the right to be indemnified by the wrong doer. In the assessment of compensation, the emphasis must be on the compensatory and not on punitive element. The objective is to apply balm to the wounds and not to punish the transgressor or the offender, as awarding appropriate punishment for the offender, as awarding appropriate punishment for the offence (irrespective of compensation) must be left to the criminal courts in which the offender is prosecuted, which the State, in law, is duty bound to do, That award of compensation in the public law jurisdiction is also without prejudice to any other action like civil suit for damages which is lawfully available to the victim or the heirs of the deceased victim with respect to the same matter for the tortious act committed by the functionaries of the State. The quantum of compensation will. of course, depend upon the peculiar facts of each case and no strait jacket formula can be evolved in that behalf. The relief to redress the wrong for the established invasion of the fundamental rights of the citizen, under the public law jurisdiction is, in addition to the traditional remedies and not it derogation of them. The amount of compensation as awarded by the Court and paid by the State to redress the wrong done, may in a given case, be adjusted against any amount which may be awarded to the claimant by way of damages in a civil suit.”

–  Tanvi Srivatsan

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