By Ranjana Meharda, National Law University, Jodhpur.

Mayhaps every prisoner looks at the dawn and views with anguish, the empty spaces which are used to fill his world. Imprisonment may strip him of certain facets of life. However, such rights, as human dignity require and circumstances justify, must be granted to him. The problems must be identified before the remedies are thought of.

The main purpose of this article is to discuss the various important Supreme Court cases relating to Rights of an Arrested Person and the various related provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code. There are some provisions which have expressly and directly created important rights in favour of an arrested person.

The rights of an arrested person are as follows:

Rights of an arrested person:

  1. Right to know the grounds of arrest– According to Section 50(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, “Every police officer or other person arresting any person without a warrant shall forthwith communicate to him full particulars of the offence for which he is arrested or other grounds for such arrest.” Apart from the provisions of the Code recognizing the right to know the ground of arrest, our Constitution has also conferred on this right, the status of a fundamental right. Article 22(1) provides, “No person who is arrested shall be detained in custody without being informed as soon as may be, of the grounds of such arrest nor shall he be denied the right to consult, and to be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.”
  2. Person arrested to be informed of grounds of arrest and of the right to bail– Section 50 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 provides that any person arrested without warrant shall immediately be informed of the grounds of his arrest, and if the arrest is made in a bailable case, the person shall be informed of his right to be released on bail.

  3. Person arrested not to be detained for more than 24 hours– The constitutional and legal requirements to produce an arrested person before a Judicial Magistrate within 24 hours of the arrest must be scrupulously observed[1]. Section 57 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 is concerned solely with the question of the period of detention. The intention is that the accused should be brought before a Magistrate competent to try or commit, with the least delay. The right to be taken out of police custody by being brought before a Magistrate is given, firstly, to prevent arrest and detention, with a view to extort confession, or as a means of compelling the accused to provide information. Secondly, to prevent police stations being used as jails. And thirdly, to afford an early recourse to a judicial officer independent of the police on all questions of bail or discharge.[2]

  4. Right to consult and to be defended by a counsel of his choice and to get free legal aid in case of economically disabled accused– Apart from ensuring a fair prosecution, a State as per the Rule of law has also a duty to arrange for the defence of the accused, if he is too poor to do so. Free legal aid to persons of limited means is a service which the modern State, in particular, a welfare State, owes to its citizens.[3]

D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal[4]:

In this case, Mr. D.K. Basu, Executive Chairman, Legal Aid Services, West Bengal, addressed a letter to the then Chief Justice of India, which was later treated as a writ petition, stating an issue regarding the compensation provided to the victim, or family members of the victim, for the death caused and atrocities caused to the victim in police custody and accountability of the officers concerned.

It was held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that:

“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”.

Joginder Kumar v. State of U.P. and Ors[5]:

In this case, the issue regarding the violation of human rights owing to discriminate arrests made by the police, was discussed. For effective enforcement of the fundamental rights under Articles 21 and 22(1) of the Constitution of India, the Court put forth the following requirements:

(1) An arrested person being held in custody is entitled, if he so requests, to have one friend, relative or other person, who is known to him or is likely to take an interest in his welfare, may be told, as far as is practicable, that he has been arrested and about where he is being detained.

(2) The Police Officer shall inform the arrested person when he is brought to the police station of this right.

(3) An entry shall be required to be made in the Diary as to who was informed of the arrest. These protections from power must be held to flow from Articles 21 and 22(1) and enforced strictly. [6]

However, these requirements are not exhaustive in nature.


Arrest has far reaching consequences; the social status and dignity of an individual suspect, is at stake. Even his acquittal cannot blot out the stigma consequent upon his arrest. There are financial implications for the arrested person and his family. Naturally, it needs to be ensured that arrests are not affected in a frivolous manner and that the rights of arrested persons are fully guaranteed. Towards this effect, The Cr.P.C. lays down safeguards such that the rights of persons enshrined in Art. 21 and 22(1) are not violated. In most cases, the criminal administration system is found to ignore such safeguards and the judiciary, for quite some time now, has been lax about ensuring proper observance of prisoners’ rights. There have, however, been many later declarations and statutory enactments, which reaffirm the common man’s faith in the rights of arrested persons.

[1] Khatri v. State of Bihar, AIR 1983 SC 378

[2] Rankin, J., in Md. Suleman, 30 CWN 985 (987) (FB).

[3]Law Commission of India, 14th Report, Vol. I, pp 587-600

[4] AIR 1997 SC 610

[5] AIR 1994 SC 1349

[6] Law Commission of India, Annexure III, Consultation Paper on Law Relating to Arrest