The Supreme Court has upheld the verdict given by the HCD, and rejected the Appeal by the state, challenging a High Court verdict on section 54 and 167 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), over the arrest of an individual without a warrant and questioning in custody. The Appellate Division bench led by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha completed hearings on the matter and kept its verdict pending (CAV).
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam and Additional Attorney General Murad Reza represented the State, while Barrister Amirul Islam represented the Respondent.
Section 54 of the CrPC stipulates the circumstances allowing police to make an arrest without a warrant, while Section 167 addresses the issue of securing a detention order for the arrestee through the court.
Background of the Case
Shamim Reza Rubel, a student of the Independent University Bangladesh, was arrested by AC Akram of Detective Branch (DB) in Dhaka under Section 54 on 23 July, 1998. He died in custody at the Detective Branch (DB) office on July 24, the very next day of the arrest.
Following Rubel’s death, the Trial Court sentenced AC Akram and 13 other convicts for life imprisonment. The government formed a judicial inquiry headed by Justice Habibur Rahman. The probe recommended some amendments in Sections 54 and 167 of the CrPc.
Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) filed a petition before the High Court Division ((Writ Petition No. 3806 of 1998)) as the recommendations of the Committee were not implemented. In April 2003, the court pronounced its verdict through which it provided some special directives on amending the laws relating to arrests without warrants and grilling in custody. It also issued a set of instructions over the matter before amending the CrPC sections, with an order to the government to implement the instructions within six months. (BLAST vs Bangladesh, 55 DLR 363)
The State, however, moved to appeal against the verdict, which was granted in 2004, but the High Court’s order was not stayed then. After 12 long years, on March 22, 2016 this year, hearings on the appeal commenced.
The Appellate Division heard the matter for a second day and wrapped up the proceedings before fixing a date for the verdict on May 17, 2016.
The Directives from the judgment of High Court Division (55 DLR 363) are as follows –
- No Police officer shall arrest anyone under Section 54 for the purpose of detention under Section 3 of the Special Powers Act, 1974
- A police officer shall disclose his/her identity and show his/her ID Card on demand to the person arrested or those present at the time of arrest
- A record of reasons of arrest and other particulars shall be maintained in a separate register till a special diary is prescribed
- The concerned officer shall record reasons for marks of injury, if any, on the person arrested and take him/her to nearest hospital or government doctor
- The person arrested shall be furnished with reasons of arrest within three hours of bringing him/her to the Police Station
- If the person is not arrested from his/her residence or place of business, the relatives should be informed over the phone or through messenger within one hour of bringing him/her to Police Station
- The person concerned must be allowed to consult a lawyer of choice or meet nearest relations
- While producing the detained person before the Magistrate under Section 61 of the CrPC, the police officer must forward reasons in a forwarding letter under Section 167 (1) of the CrPC as to why the investigation could not be completed within twenty four hours and why s/he considers the accusation and information to be well founded
- On perusal of the forwarding letter, if the Magistrate satisfies him/herself that the accusation and information are well founded and materials in the case diary are sufficient for detaining the person in custody, the Magistrate shall pass an order of detention and if not, release him/her forthwith
- Where a person is released on the aforesaid grounds, the Magistrate shall proceed under 190(1)(c) of the CrPC against the Officer concerned under Section 220 of the Penal Code.
- Where the Magistrate orders detention of the person, the Officer shall interrogate the accused in a room in a jail until a room with glass wall or grille on one side within sight of lawyer or relations is constructed
- In any application for taking accused in custody for interrogation, reasons should be mentioned as recommended
- The Magistrate while authorizing detention in police custody shall follow the recommendations laid down in the judgment
- The police officer arresting under Section 54, or the Investigating Officer taking a person to custody or the jailor must inform the nearest Magistrate about the death of any person in custody in compliance with these recommendations
- The Magistrate shall inquire into the death of any person in police custody or jail as per the recommendations.