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Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    11th Apr, 2022

Context

Lok Sabha recently passed the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill that seeks to take measurements of convicts and other persons for purposes of identification and investigation in criminal matters.

Background

Highlights of the Bill:

  • It seeks to repeal The Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 under which “measurements” of only “finger impressions” and “footprint impressions” are allowed. 
  • The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill seeks to: 
    • Define “measurements”
      The Bill seeks to provide legal sanction to the police to take physical and biological samples of those who have been convicted, arrested or detained — including impressions of fingerprints, palm prints and footprints; photos; iris and retina scans; analysis of physical and biological samples; and behavioural attributes, including signature and handwriting.
    • Conviction Rates: Empower the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) to collect, store and preserve the record of measurements and for sharing, dissemination, destruction and disposal of records.
    • Empower a Magistrate to direct any person to give measurements; a Magistrate can also direct law enforcement officials to collect fingerprints, footprint impressions and photographs in the case of a specified category of convicted and non-convicted persons;
    • Empower police or prison officers to take measurements of any person who resists or refuses to give measurements
  • The bill also authorises police to record signatures, handwriting or other behavioural attributes referred to in Section 53 or section 53A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, for the purposes of analysis.
  • In case of refusal to comply
    • Resistance to or refusal to allow the taking of measurements under this Act shall be deemed to be an offence under section 186 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)
    • No suit or any other proceeding shall lie against any person for anything done, or intended to be done in good faith under this Act or any rule made thereunder
    • Central government or state government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act
    • Manner of collection, storing, preservation of measurements and sharing, dissemination, destruction and disposal of records under sub-section (1) of section 4;
      • Storage of data: 
    • The Bill authorised officers in charge of police stations or those not below Head Constable rank to take the “measurements”— records of these measurements shall be retained for 75 years from the date of collection. 
      • The present law covers officers in charge of stations, those conducting an investigation, or others not below the rank of Sub-Inspector.
    • The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will be the repository of physical and biological samples, signature and handwriting data.
  • According to the 2020 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, the overall conviction rate in murder cases in India was just 44%; 39% in rape cases; 24% in cases of attempted murder; 38% in robbery; and 29% in dacoity cases.
  • Whereas, in the United Kingdom the average conviction rate was 83.6%, it was 68% in Canada, 82% in South Africa, 97% in Australia (2020-21) and about 93% in the United States.
  • All these countries were champions of human rights and had more stringent laws in place

Objection to the Bill:

  • The opposition has alleged that Bill violates fundamental right of citizens and infringes upon their Right to Privacy. It has contended that the Parliament cannot bring any law that violates the fundamental rights of citizens. 
  • The proposed law will be debated against Article 20(3) of the Constitution — a fundamental right ensuring right against self-incrimination.
  • The Supreme Court’s ruling in the Puttaswamy vs Union of India case stated that any state action infringing upon the right to privacy needs to be backed by legislation. 
  • The proposed law was a violation of both Article 20, Sub-Article 3 and Article 21 of the Constitution of India and, therefore, beyond the legislative competence of this House. 
  • It also violates human rights provisions as laid out in the United Nations charter.
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