- The government, on March 28, introduced the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022, in Lok Sabha
- The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 seeks to replace the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920.
- The Act authorises the collection of certain identifiable information about specified persons such as convicts for the investigation of crime.
- The Bill increases the ambit of such details, and also of people whose details can be taken. It authorises the National Crime Records Bureau to collect, store, and preserve these details.
Features of the Bill
- The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill authorises law enforcement agencies to collect, store and analyse physical and biological samples of convicts and “other persons” for the purposes of identification and investigation in criminal matters.
- The scope of the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 was limited to taking recording finger impressions and footprint impressions of a limited category of convicted and non-convicted persons and photographs on the order of a Magistrate.
- The Bill also seeks to apply these provisions to people held under any preventive detention law.
- The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will collect the physical and biological samples, signatures and handwriting data that can be preserved for at least 75 years.
- The Bill seeks to redefine “measurements” and includes finger impressions, palm-print and foot-print impressions, photographs, iris and retina scan, physical, biological samples and their analysis, etc.
- Police personnel up to the rank of Head Constable have been authorised to record the measurements and NCRB can share the records with any other law enforcement agency. It empowers a Magistrate to direct any person to give measurements.
- Can the records be destroyed? Yes, it can be done in the case of any person who has not been previously convicted of an offence punishable under any law with imprisonment for any term and had his/her measurements taken according to the provisions of this Act, is released without trial or discharged or acquitted by the court, after exhausting all legal remedies. The court or Magistrate, for reasons to be recorded in writing, can direct agencies to maintain the records.
- If someone resists or refuses to give details, the act will be considered an offence under the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
- The state governments and UT administrations may notify agencies to collect, preserve and share details about specified persons in their respective jurisdictions.
- The Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, gave the power of making rules only to the state government. The Bill extends this power to the central government as well.
Need for and significance of the Bill:
- The Bill states that it is necessary to expand the “ambit of persons” whose measurements can be taken as this will help investigating agencies gather sufficient legally admissible evidence and establish the crime of the accused person.
- The Bill will not only help investigation agencies but also increase prosecution.
There is also a chance of an increase in conviction rates in courts through this
Issues with the Bill:
- Opposition members in parliament have termed it as “draconian” and “illegal”.
- It violates fundamental rights of citizens
- the right to privacy (article 21)
- It violate article 20 (3) of the constitution that safeguards the rights of citizens by providing that “no person accused of an offence shall be a witness against himself.”
- The proposed law that also provides for retaining the people’s measurements for 75 years from the date of collection was in violation of the Right to be forgotten enshrined in the Right to life under article 21 of the constitution.”
- It also violates human rights provisions as laid out in the United Nations charter.
- Also, the implied use of force in clause 6(1) to take measurements violates the rights of prisoners laid down in a catena of Supreme Court judgements beginning with A K Gopalan 1950, Kharag Singh 1964, Charles Sobhraj 1978, Sheela Barse 1983, and Pramod Kumar Saxena 2008.