The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 was recently introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, with the goal of ensuring more effective and speedy criminal investigation via the use of modern technologies.
The bill attempts to replace the Identification of Prisoners Act of 1920, which was amended in the 1980s by the Law Commission of India (in its 87th Report) and the Supreme Court’s decision in State of U.P. vs Ram Babu Misra (1980).
- The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will store physical and biological samples, as well as signature and handwriting data, for at least 75 years.
- The NCRB also has the authority to share the information with any other law enforcement agency.
- It would enable law enforcement and prison officials to collect, store, and analyse physical and biological samples, such as retina and iris scans.
- It also allows for the measuring of criminals and “other individuals” for the sake of identification and criminal investigation.
- These requirements will also apply to anybody detained under any preventative detention legislation.
- The bill allows for the application of modern technologies. The current law, the Identification of Prisoners Act of 1920, authorised only a restricted category of convicted prisoners to have their fingerprints and footprints taken.
- Expanding the “ambit of persons” who may be measured will assist investigative authorities in gathering enough legally acceptable evidence to show the accused person’s offence.
- It is believed to reduce the threat of identity theft and identity fraud from organised crime, cybercriminals, and terrorists.
- More precise physical and biological samples will speed up and improve the efficiency of criminal investigations, as well as increase the conviction rate.
- The bill will aid in the prevention of severe national and international risks presented by them.
- Data Management: While the bill allows for the preservation of information for 75 years, additional issues include how the data collected will be maintained, shared, distributed, and deleted.
- Unawareness among Detainees: Although the bill states that an apprehended individual who is not charged with a crime against a woman or a child has the right to refuse biological samples, not all detainees are aware of this right. It may be simple for the authorities to disregard such denials and later claim that the subject gave his or her assent
- Ambiguous Provisions: The new law, which replaces the 1920 Identification of Prisoners Act, greatly increases its scope and reach.Because the word ‘biological samples’ isn’t defined further, it might refer to bodily intrusions such as blood and hair collection, as well as DNA collection. These are actions that now require a magistrate’s written approval.
- Weakens the Right to Privacy: While the legislative proposal appears to be technical, it really undermines the right to privacy of all Indian citizens, not only those guilty of crimes. The bill suggests taking samples from demonstrators who are taking part in political demonstrations.
- Article 20(3) Violation: Concerns have been expressed that the Bill will allow for forcible sample collection, potentially violating Article 20(3), which guarantees the right to self-incrimination. The bill might lead to narco analysis and brain mapping, as well as the use of coercion in gathering biological data.
- Ensure Data Security: There is no doubt that privacy and data security are important concerns.Such procedures involving the acquisition, storage, and erasure of personal data should only be implemented once a robust data protection law is in place, with severe penalties for violations.Any intrusion into one’s personal space must pass the Supreme Court’s constitutionality test.
- Better Implementation: Denying law enforcement agencies access to cutting-edge technology would be a severe disservice to crime victims and the country as a whole.
- In addition to improved oversight and data protection legislation, steps must be done to improve the law’s implementation.
- Training for investigators, prosecutors, and judges, as well as collaboration with doctors and forensic specialists, must all be prioritised.
- There is a need for additional professionals to gather measurements from crime scenes, as well as more forensic labs and equipment to analyse them in order to identify potential suspects in a criminal case.
- Scrutiny in Parliament: It would be in the best interests of the bill to be submitted to a Standing Committee for further review before becoming law.
How to structure:
- Give a brief intro about the bill
- Explain the key features and changes made
- Mention the main issues that have been raised concerning these changes
- Suggest measures