The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on March 28, 2022. The bill aims to repeal the Identification of 102 years old Prisoners Act of 1920, which allows law enforcement to collect personally identifiable information on certain people, such as criminals, in order to conduct criminal investigations.
The Bill was introduced with the goal of authorising the taking of measures of convicts and other people for the purposes of identification and investigation in criminal cases, as well as the preservation of records.
This bill increases the number of people who can access such information as well as the number of people who can obtain it. It gives the National Crime Records Bureau the authority to collect, store, and maintain certain records. It had to be created so that modern technology could be used to take and record accurate body measurements.
The Bill’s definition of “measurements” includes finger imprints, palm print and footprint impressions, photos, iris and retina scans, physical, biological samples, and their analysis. The bill gives police more authority to collect information, but it raises concerns about abuse.
According to the government, this is an update to an outdated law that will make criminal investigations “more efficient” and “assist in increasing the conviction rate.”
Many members of the opposition, lawyers, and activists, however, have expressed concerns about the legislation, claiming that it could infringe on fundamental rights such as privacy and the right against self-incrimination.
The police can only record fingerprint and footprint impressions for a limited number of convicted and non-convicted people under the 1920 law. However, the scope of what the police can now collect has been greatly expanded. In addition to fingerprints and footprints, police can keep track of a person’s iris and retina scan, as well as biological samples and analyses, as well as behavioural characteristics like signatures and handwriting.
Other measurements defined under sections 53 and 53(A) of the Code of Criminal Procedure include blood, sperm, saliva, and sweat, as well as hair samples, fingernail clippings, DNA profiling, and other tests that a registered medical practitioner believes are necessary to collect evidence in relation to a crime.
Key Feature of the Bill
- To make it possible to use modern technology to take and record accurate body measurements.
- Give the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) the power to collect, store, and preserve measurements records, as well as share, disseminate, destroy, and dispose of them.
- To allow a Magistrate to order anyone to take measures; additionally, a Magistrate can order law enforcement officials to collect “fingerprints, palm print impressions, footprint impressions, photographs, iris and retina scan, physical, biological samples and their analysis, behavioural attributes including signatures, handwriting, or any other examination” in the case of a specific category of convicted and non-convicted individuals.
- Police or jail authorities should be able to measure anyone who resists or refuses to offer measures.
The legislature’s intent to make the word measurement exclusive in nature by including general words like physical and biological samples could lead to narcoanalysis and brain mapping through the use of force implicitly in collection, directly violating Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution, right to self-incrimination, and Article 21, right to life.
No person accused of a crime may be forced to testify against himself, according to Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India (COI). It has become a source of concern for individuals’ privacy, which is in jeopardy. It should be noted that it also violates the Human Rights provisions of the United Nations Charter. Furthermore, it contradicts the core concept of criminal law that no one is guilty until proven guilty in a court of law.
If a person refuses to give information, the bill states that the police can take it forcibly in a manner that may be prescribed by the executive later. The law gives only a limited amount of power to refuse data collection. It states that a person arrested for a crime with a sentence of less than seven years and that is not a crime against a woman or a child can refuse to provide “biological samples,” a term that has yet to be defined. As a result, in some circumstances, the police may be able to obtain information without a person’s consent.
A magistrate also has the authority to order the police to take anyone’s measurements if it is needed for “any investigation or proceedings.”
Parties like the Congress and the Trinamool Congress have said that this bill violates people’s fundamental rights in the Lok Sabha. Manish Tewari, a member of Parliament, has raised concerns that “biological samples and their analysis” could include narcoanalysis and brain mapping, and that if forced, this would violate the accused’s fundamental rights.
It went on to say that it’s unclear whether cops can collect and use a person’s DNA because the use of DNA in criminal investigations is being debated in a separate bill.
By granting the State broad powers to store prisoner records and conduct physical and biological tests with the implied force of law, the Bill has infringed on citizens’ fundamental rights, which is contrary to the rule of law and arbitrary in nature. People do not lose their humanity while they are imprisoned.