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D.K. Basu, Ashok K. Johri v. State of West Bengal (1997)

Case Summary


The case of D.K. Basu, Ashok K. Johri v. State of West Bengal (1997) is a landmark legal proceeding that addresses the issue of custodial violence and the protection of human rights in India. The petitioners, D.K. Basu and Ashok K. Johri, filed a public interest litigation (PIL) petition before the Supreme Court of India, highlighting instances of torture, custodial deaths, and other forms of abuse perpetrated by law enforcement authorities in West Bengal and other parts of the country.


In its judgment delivered in 1997, the Supreme Court of India issued comprehensive guidelines to prevent custodial violence and ensure the protection of human rights of individuals in police custody. The court emphasized the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 21 and 22(1) of the Indian Constitution, which protect the right to life and personal liberty, as well as the right against arbitrary arrest and detention. The guidelines outlined various measures to be followed by law enforcement agencies, including the mandatory recording of arrests, informing the next of kin, medical examination of detainees, and the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment.


The judgment in D.K. Basu, Ashok K. Johri v. State of West Bengal had far-reaching implications for law enforcement practices and the protection of human rights in India. It marked a significant step towards preventing custodial violence and ensuring accountability for law enforcement authorities. The guidelines laid down by the court set standards for police conduct and emphasized the importance of respecting the dignity and rights of individuals in custody. The case also highlighted the judiciary's role in safeguarding constitutional values and upholding the rule of law, particularly in instances where state actors may abuse their power.

List of Linked Cases:

People's Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India (1982)

Sheela Barse v. State of Maharashtra (1987)

Nilabati Behera v. State of Orissa (1993)

Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration (1980)

State of Uttar Pradesh v. Ram Sagar Yadav (1985)

Prakash Singh v. Union of India (2006)