Update: In April 2022, the parliament passed the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022, which enforces mandatory sharing of personal biological data for certain individuals convicted and accused of offences.
The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022
On the 28th of March 2022, the Central Government tabled a Bill called “The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022,” which makes it mandatory for certain individuals convicted and accused of offences to share personal biological data.
In this Bill, the police will be authorised to take data of convicts and other people for purposes of identifying them and investigating criminal cases. According to the government, the Bill should use modern techniques to capture and record appropriate body measurements.
What Does the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 Propose?
These are the changes the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill of 2022 proposes to make:
1. The Bill aims to repeal the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, which says fingerprints and footprints are to be taken only of a limited group of convicted and non-convicted criminals.
2. The Bill allows law enforcement agencies to collect, store, and analyse physical, biological, and behavioural samples, including retinal and iris scans, as well as signatures and handwriting, to perform identification and criminal investigations.
3. Once collected, the law enforcement agencies will store these measurements for 75 years in an electronic or digital format.
4. The Bill authorises the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) to collect, store and preserve measurements and to share, disseminate, destroy, and dispose of records.
5. The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 also seeks to apply to persons held under any preventive detention law.
6. It also provides an exception that says that an individual accused of any offence, except for offences committed against any woman or child, or an offence punishable by imprisonment for not less than seven years, can refuse to have his biological samples taken.
7. The Bill also says that anyone who denies giving the measurement shall be treated as an offender under section 186 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Arguments Against the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022
Here is the list of arguments against the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022:
1. The Bill violated citizens’ fundamental rights, including their right to privacy, and thus was beyond the legislative jurisdiction of parliament.
2. The expression “other person” in the proposed Bill is too vague and needs a detailed explanation.
3. The proposed law is against Article 20(3) of the Constitution which guarantees the right against self-incrimination.
4. Mr Ramachandran, a member of parliament, said the Bill violates the human rights provisions as laid in the United Nations charter.
5. The question remains whether any states will refuse to share this information, given that policing is a state subject.
6. According to Manish Tewari, a member of parliament, the proposed law violates Article 20(3) and Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and, therefore, is beyond the legislative competence of this house. He also argued that taking biological samples from the accused and arrestees could lead to a narco-analysis and brain mapping.
7. Mr Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Congress leader in Lok Sabha, said the Bill gives police and courts permission to take measurements of persons subject to trials or suspicions in any case, assuming they may commit an illegal act at a later date, which is against Article 21.
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