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Implementing Criminal Procedure Identification Act

  • Published
    25th Oct, 2023
Context:

The Central Government is set to roll out DNA and Face-matching systems in 1,300 police stations across the country in accordance with Criminal Procedure Identification Act, passed by the Parliament in April 2022.

What are the provisions of Criminal Procedure Identification Act, 2022?

  • The Act does not explicitly mention collection of DNA or Face-matching data.
  • It provides legal sanction to the police to collect physical and biological samples of convicts as well as those accused of crimes.
  • Any person convicted, arrested or detained under any preventive detention law will be required to provide measurements to a police officer or a prison official.
  • It aims to ensure the unique identification of those involved with crime and to help investigating agencies solve cases.

Which agency shall implement the Act?

  • The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has been tasked with rolling out the Act and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that are to be followed by police officials while procuring the data.
  • It will be the Union Home Ministry through the NCRB will be the repository of database.
  • On the suggestion of NCRB, states have been asked to identify locations and prepare the sites where the Measurement Collection Unit (MCU) maybe established.
  • It is pertinent to know that under National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS), workstations and scanners have been put up at around 1300 police stations across the country.

What is NAFIS?

It is another project managed by NCRB. It has fingerprint details of more than one crore people, accused and convicts, across the country. NAFIS has been integrated with Criminal Procedure Identification Act.

  • Union Home Ministry has constituted the Domain Committee for successful implementation of the Act with representatives from State Police, Central Enforcement Agencies and other key stakeholders.

Difficulties in implementing the Act:

  • Making equipment needed for implementation the Act available throughout India.
  • Connectivity with a centralised database.
  • Training the state police forces in using the technology.

Significance of the Act:

  • Availability of Modern Techniques: The Act will open up the inclusion of modern techniques to capture and record appropriate body measurements. The existing law allowed taking only fingerprint and footprint impressions of a limited category of convicted persons.
  • Help Investing Agencies: It will help the investigating agencies to gather sufficient legally admissible evidence and establish the crime of the accused person.
  • Making Investigation More Efficient:It provides legal sanction for taking appropriate body measurements of persons who are required to give such measurements and will make the investigation of crime more efficient and expeditious and will also help in increasing the conviction rate.

Issues with Law:

  • Violation of Privacy: Seemingly technical, the legislative proposal undermines the right to privacy of not only persons convicted of a crime but also every ordinary Indian citizen.It has provisions to collect samples even from protestors engaged in political protests.
  • Unawareness among Detainees: Although it provides that an arrested person (not accused of an offence against a woman or a child) may refuse the taking of samples, not all detainees may know that they can indeed decline to let biological samples be taken.
  • Ambiguous Provisions: Replacing the 1920 Identification of Prisoners Act, the proposed law considerably expands its scope and reach.
  • Violation of Article 20: Enables coercive drawing of samples and possibly involves a violation of Article 20(3), which protects the right against self-incrimination.
  • Handling of Data: Provision of preserving the record for 75 years (effectively for life), other concerns include the means by which the data collected will be preserved, shared, disseminated, and destroyed.
    • Collection can also result in mass surveillance, with the database under this law being combined with other databases such as those of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS).
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