The Delhi High Court on Thursday issued a notice to the Centre after a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed seeking judicial review of the provisions of the recently approved Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022. The Act received Presidential assent on Tuesday.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla while issuing the notice said that “it requires consideration”.
Advocate Amit Mahajan, appearing for Union of India, opposed the plea on maintainability grounds and stated that the vires of an act cannot be challenged in a PIL.
A PIL was filed by one Harshit Goel, who sought a judicial review of Sections 2(1)(a)(iii), 2(1)(b), 3,4,5,6 and 8 of the Act and prayed for appropriate direction to declare the aforesaid provisions of the Act as unconstitutional and void. The plea averred that the coercive provisions transgresses the right against self-incrimination, a well-established principle of the criminal justice system and mandated under Article 20(3) of the Constitution.
The plea, moved through Advocates Yashwant Singh, Harshit Anand and Aman Naqvi stated that forcing an individual to part with ‘measurements’ under the provisions of Act violates the standard of ‘substantive due process’, the plea submits that section 3 and 5 of the Act allows excessive, coercive and arbitrary intrusion into the dignity of a convict as well as of an individual who may be called in for simple questioning, or who is involved in the minor offences.
The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act allows police to collect finger impressions, palm prints expressions, footprint impressions, photographs, iris and retina scans, physical and biological samples.
The act also allows the authorities to collect behavioural attributes including signatures, handwriting or any other samples which are included under Section 53 or Section 53A of CrPC.
The Act replaces the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, which was passed by Lok Sabha on April 4 and Rajya Sabha on April 6. Apart from providing legal sanction to police to obtain physical and biological samples of convicts and detainees for investigation in criminal matter also empowers a magistrate to order measurements or photographs of a person to be taken to aid the investigation of an offence. All materials must be destroyed in case of acquittal or discharge of the person