- Last year, the Parliament passed the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022.
Key Features of the Act
- The Act repeals The Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920. The over 100-year-old Act’s scope was limited to capturing of finger impression, foot-print impressions and photographs of convicted prisoners and certain categories of arrested and non-convicted persons on the order of a Magistrate.
- The new Act will allow police and prison authorities to collect, store and analyse physical and biological samples including retina and iris scans of convicted, arrested and detained persons.
- The Act expands:
- the type of data that may be collected,
- persons from whom such data may be collected, and
- the authority that may authorise such collection.
Comparison of key provisions of the 1920 Act and the 2022 Act
|Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920
|Changes in the 2022 Act
Other Key Provisions
- The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will be the central agency to maintain the records. It will share the data with law enforcement agencies. Further, states/UTs may notify agencies to collect, preserve, and share data in their respective jurisdictions.
- The data collected will be retained in digital or electronic form for 75 years. Records will be destroyed in case of persons who are acquitted after all appeals, or released without trial. However, in such cases, a Court or Magistrate may direct the retention of details after recording reasons in writing.
What about concerns that the Act will be misused?
- When the Bill was debated in Parliament in March this year, the Opposition members termed it “unconstitutional” and an attack on privacy as it allowed the record of samples of even political detainees.
- However, the rules notified recently state that samples of those detained under preventive Sections such as 107, 108, 109, 110, 144, 145 and 151 of the CrPC shall not be taken unless such person is charged or arrested in connection with any other offence punishable under any other law.
Why in News?
- More than a year after the Criminal Procedure Identification Act (CrPI) was passed by Parliament, the Centre is all set to roll out ‘DNA and Face Matching’ systems at 1,300 police stations across the country.
- The provisions of the Act are yet to be implemented entirely on the ground. There are logistic and connectivity issues too.
- The law that enables police and Central investigating agencies to collect, store and analyse physical and biological samples was passed by the Parliament in 2022.
- The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a Central body tasked with rolling out the Act, was assigned with finalising the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to be followed by police officials while recording the measurements.
- Though the Act and rules do not explicitly mention the collection of DNA samples and face matching procedure, in subsequent meetings with State police officials, the NCRB informed that the said measures will be rolled out in around 1,300 locations spread across police districts, commissionerate and Special Investigation Units at State headquarters.
- Under the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS), another project maintained and managed by NCRB, workstations and scanners have been put up at around 1,300 police stations. It has fingerprint details, a unique 10-digit number of over 1 crore people, accused and convicts, across the country. This database is also being integrated with the Criminal Procedure Identification Act.