In the British era, The Identification of Prisoners Act 1920, was the only law that allowed the police to gather basic identifying information such as fingerprints of the detained and convict. The law commissioner 1980 recommended amending the identification of the Prisoner Act to keep up with modern technology and criminal investigation. The code of criminal procedure (CrPC) was later amended in 2005. It was amended to empower a magistrate to order to collect handwriting samples and photographs of any person, just for investigation. Unfortunately, this was too fund to be lacking to keep up with the progressing scientific analysis of crime and criminology.
Previously the agencies had little scientific data to support their investigations and they were dependent on the earliest method of identification procedures such as fingerprints and footprints. In March this year, The Criminal Procedure Identification Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha to overcome this issue, later it was passed in Rajya Sabha on April 6, 2022. The main motive to introduce this Bill as an Act is to replace The Identification of Prisoners Act, of 1920. This Bill also talks about a wide category of data to be collected to pervade a scientific approach in the criminal investigation processes and related databases. This Bill instructs what kind of data is to be collected and who can authorize the instructed data to be collected. In addition to what was permitted to be collected earlier, there are a few more biological samples added to the list that are to be collected, such as Blood, Semen, Hair, and Swabs along with other attributes such as handwriting, and signature samples and few other DNA samples. Biological samples can be taken forcibly from any person who is arrested for an offense against women and children, or if the offense is punishable for 7 years or more. If a person is under preventive detention, a magistrate will now have the power to permit the collection of samples of or from that person for investigation. Previously it was only the investigation officer and a magistrate, who had the power to order for the samples to be collected. Under the new Bill even ahead warden of the prison, a head constable along with the previously stated authorities can direct the collection of the samples. The new Bill comes with certain difficulties, the first one is, the Right to Privacy, prima facile the new Bill comes directly in conflict with the Right to Privacy. when a person is identifiable from the data collected there is a risk to the right to privacy. Identifiable information means personal or sensitive data which is to proceed under the right to privacy. The Supreme Court of India has declared the right to privacy to be one of the Fundamental Rights. The Bill allows the collected data to be stored for 75 years, which may lead t misuse of the collected data, which will also lead to unequal treatment of people. In the 1920 Act, data permitted to be collected, were fingerprints, foot-print impressions, and photographs. And the additional data to be collected in the 2022 Bill, are biological samples, behavioral attributes including signatures, handwriting, and examinations under
Section 53 and 53A of CrPC which includes blood, semen, hair samples, swabs, and analyses of DNA profiling. The person whose Data may be collected in the 1920 Act is different, it is, i. if convicted or arrested for offenses punishable with rigorous imprisonment of one year or more ii. Persons ordered to give security for good behavior or maintaining peace iii. The magistrate may order in other cases collection from any arrested person to aid criminal investigation. In the 2022 Bill, it is, i. Convicted or arrested for any offense. However, biological samples may be taken forcibly only from persons arrested for offenses against a woman or a child, or if the offense carries a minimum of seven years imprisonment ii. Persons detained under any preventive detention law iii. On the order of the Magistrate, from any person (not just an arrested person) to aid the investigation. A person who may require the collection of data in the 1920 Act is, i. Investigation officer, ii. Officer in charge of the police station, iii. Someone of rank sub-inspector or above, iii. Magistrate. In the 2022 Bill, it is, i. Officer in charge of a police station, ii. Someone of the rank of head constable or above, iii. A head warden of a prison, iv. The metropolitan magistrate or judicial magistrate of first class. In case the person is required to maintain good behavior or peace, the executive magistrate.
Author’s Name: Teena Kapoor (Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Hyderabad)