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Identity and privacy

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    31st Mar, 2022

The government introduced the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 in Lok Sabha. The Bill proposes to allow the police and prison authorities to collect, store and analyse physical and biological samples including retina and iris scans.

What is the proposed law?

  • Details about convicts and other persons: The Act permits the collection of photographs and specified details about convicts and other persons including finger impressions and footprint impressions.  The Bill expands the list of details that can be collected.   It will now include: (i) palm-print impressions, (ii) iris and retina scans, (iii) behavioural attributes such as signature and handwriting, and (iv) other physical and biological samples such as blood, semen, hair samples, and swabs, and their analysis.
  • Retention of details: The Bill requires the details collected to be retained in digital or electronic form for 75 years from the date of collection.
  • Persons authorised to collect details: Under the Act, details may be collected by police officers who: (i) are in charge of a police station, (ii) conduct investigation under the CrPC, or (iii) are at least at the rank of a Sub-Inspector.  

Who does the law apply to?

  • First Category- Those convicted of an offence punishable under any law for the time being in force.
  • Second Category- Those ordered to give security for good behaviour or maintaining peace under Section 117 of the CrPC for a proceeding under Section 107, 108, 109 or 110 of the Code. These are provisions involving “suspected criminals” or “habitual offenders” with a view to preventing crime.
  • Third Category- Those arrested in connection with an offence punishable under any law in force or detained under any preventive detention law. This would include the National Security Act or the Public Safety Act.

What are the issues being raised about the Bill?

  • LACK OF CLARITY:Several provisions are not defined in the Bill itself. For a law that impacts fundamental rights, this can raise concerns. 
  • CONFLICT WITH FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS:Opposition members argued that the Bill was beyond the legislative competence of Parliament as it violated fundamental rights of citizens including the right to privacy — the Constitution states that Parliament can bring no law that violates the fundamental rights of citizens.
  • OTHER CONCERNS:The Bill also brings to focus rights of prisoners and the right to be forgotten since biometric data can be stored for 75 years. While the jurisprudence around the right to be forgotten is still in an early stage in India, the Puttaswamy judgment discusses it as a facet of the fundamental right to privacy.

Question: Discuss the concerns raised by the recent introduction of the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022.


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