IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Dr. Anand, J.
1. The Executive Chairman, Legal Aid Services, West Bengal, a non-political organisation registered under the Societies Registration Act, on 26th August, 1986 addressed a letter to the Chief Justice of India drawing his attention to certain news items published in the Telegraph dated 20, 21 and 22 of July, 1986 and in the Statesman and Indian Express dated 17th August, 1986 regarding deaths in police lock-ups and custody. The Executive Chairman after reproducing the news items submitted that it was imperative to examine the issue in depth and to develop "custody jurisprudence" and formulate modalities for awarding compensation to the victim and/or family members of the victim for attrocities and death caused in police custody and to provide for accountability of the officers concerned. It was also stated in the letter that efforts are often made to hush up the matter of lock-up deaths and thus the crime goes unpunished and "flourishes". It was requested that the letter alongwith the news items be treated as a writ petition under "public interest litigation" category.
2. Considering the importance of the issue raised in the letter and being concerned by frequent complaints regarding custodial violence and deaths in police lock up, the letter was treated as a writ petition and notice was issued on 9.2.1987 to the respondents.
3. In response to the notice, the State of West Bengal filed a counter. It was maintained that the police was not hushing up any matter of lock-up death and that whereever police personnel were found to the responsible for such death, action was being initiated against them. The respondents characterised the writ petition as misconceived, misleading and untenable in law.
4. While the writ petition was under consideration a letter addressed by Shri Ashok Kumar Johri on 29.7.87 to Hon'ble Chief Justice of India drawing the attention of this
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