The Supreme Court Thursday released full text of its May 24 verdict that upheld an earlier High Court judgment restricting the detention and remand of people under Sections 54 and 167 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), rejecting an appeal by the past BNP government.
The apex court released the 396-page full text and posted it on its website after the four judges of that concerned bench led by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha signed it.
The apex court on May 24 validated the 2003 High Court verdict asking the government to amend the two CrPC sections that allow police to arrest someone on suspicion without warrant and detain him for a period of 15 days with a magisterial approval.
"A member law enforcement officer making the arrest of any person shall prepare a memorandum of arrest immediately after the arrest and such officer shall obtain the signature of the arrestee with the date and time of arrest in the said memorandum," read the text of the verdict.
It added: "No law enforcing officer shall arrest a person under section 54 of the Code for the purpose of detaining him under section 3 of the Special Powers Act, 1974 (and) a law enforcing officer shall disclose his identity and if demanded, shall show his identity card to the person arrested and to the persons present at the time of arrest."
The apex court also directed the magistrates or judges not to make an order of detention of a person in the judicial custody if the police forwarding report disclose that the arrest was made for the purpose of putting the arrestee in the "preventive detention".
The verdict also asks a magistrate proceed against a law enforcement officer under section 220 of the Penal Code if the "Magistrate has reason to believe that the officer who has legal authority to commit a person in confinement has acted contrary to law".
It said whenever a law enforcement officer takes an accused person in his custody on remand, it would be his responsibility to produce him or her in court upon expiry of the period of remand.
It said in case of death of the arrested person in custody "the magistrate shall direct for the examination of the victim by a medical board, and in the event of burial of the victim, he shall direct exhumation of the dead body for fresh medical examination by a medical board".
The verdict said d if the medical board report reveals that the death is homicidal in nature, "he shall take cognizance of the offence punishable under section 15 of Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act, 2013 against such officer and the officer in-charge of the respective police station or commandingofficer of such officer in whose custody the death of the accused person took place".
"If there are materials or information to a magistrate that a person has been subjected to torture or died in custody . . . (he) shall refer the victim to the nearest doctor in case of torture and to a medical board in case of death for ascertaining the injury or the cause of death," it read.
The verdict said if the medical evidence reveals that the person detained has been tortured or died due to torture, "the magistrate shall take cognizance of the offence suo-moto under section 190(1)(c) of the code without awaiting the filing of a case under sections 4 and 5 and proceed in accordance with law," it added".
The intervention of the higher judiciary on the two sections of the age-old criminal procedure code came on a writ petition filed by rights group Bangladesh Legal Aid as Services Trust (BLAST) in view of non-compliance of a judicial commission report centering a death in police custody in 1998.
The then Awami League government had constituted the commission led by Justice Habibur Rahman Khan following the 1998 murder of a private university student Rubel in police custody after his arrest under section 54 and detention under 167.
The April 7, 2003 High Court verdict had asked authorities concerned to amend the provisions of arrest and remand under the sections 54 and 167, within subsequent six months while it simultaneously issued an interim 15-point guideline to regulate the arrests and detention under those two sections.
But instead of complying with verdict the subsequent BNP-led four-party coalition government challenged the High Court decision in 2004 and the Appellate Division accepted the leave to appeal.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam in his initial reaction after the May 24 verdict had said: "I hope the apex court would release its judgment taking the present social reality into consideration."
But, he said, the reality does not always allow police to arrest the accused after filing the cases in advance and that is why the law enforcement agencies seek to use the Section 54 so the culprits do not get scopes to flee.