With an aim to stop custodial deaths and torture at the hands of police, Supreme Court of India in year 1997 came up with a historic judgment in the case titled D K Basu v/s State of West Bengal. The Court laid down several guidelines which are mandatory to be followed by Police while arresting people under various penal laws. Vide official letter No: D.O 15011/55/2001-HR Dated: 11.9.2001 Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) directed Chief Secretaries of all the state including Jammu & Kashmir to implement D K Basu guidelines in letter and spirit. The operative part of the letter reads as :
“The Hon’ble Supreme Court had in a writ petition filed before it in the case of D.K. Basu Vs State of West Bengal and Joginder Kumar Vs. State of UP, laid down certain guidelines required to be followed while making arrest of individuals, thereby modifying the laws relating to arrests to that extent. The Judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of D.K. Basu Vs State of West Bengal had already been circulated to all the Home Secretaries as well as Director Generals of Police of all the State Governments and UT Admins on the 2nd of July, 1997 by this Ministry for compliance and report. However, instances have come to the notice where these principles have been violated by the authorities making arrests. This not only violates the law of the land but also results in gross violation of human rights to which we stand committed “
Highlights of the Guidelines
The police official or officials 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 personnel who handle interrogation of the arrestee must be recorded in a register. Police officer carrying out the arrest shall prepare a memo of arrest and 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. A person who has been arrested or detained and is being held in custody in a police station or interrogation centre shall be entitled to have one friend or relative or other person known to him being informed. 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 Aids Organization in the District and the police station of the area concerned telegraphically within a period of 8 to 12 hours. The arrestee should be subjected to medical examination by a trained doctor every 48 hours during his detention. Copies of all the documents including the memo of arrest, referred to above, should be sent to the Magistrate for his record. The arrestee may be permitted to meet his lawyer during interrogation, though not throughout the interrogation.
Conclusion Is Jammu & Kashmir state immune to D K Basu guidelines? Leaving aside people, the police officials are themselves unaware of these guidelines. People are detained for days and weeks in police stations and interrogation centers here and magistrates are hardly updated. Even in non-militancy cases, the rights of detainees are violated. The detainee or his relative even do not know the name or rank of the police official making arrest. Not even a single D K Basu guideline is followed. When I recently sought details using RTI Act in the case of late Rizwan Pandit a private school principal who died in police custody some months back, the designated officer (PIO) dispatched misleading information to me. He did not provide any documents related to implementation of D K Basu guidelines in Rizwan’s case. How long shall our state police continue to violate these apex court guidelines? Authorities at helm of affairs and judiciary needs to take serious notice of these violations.