As The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill 2022 got its assent from the President on 18th April 2022 after getting passed by Lok Sabha on April 4 and Rajya Sabha on April 6. The Bill becomes law, allowing police to take physical and biological samples from criminals and people suspected of committing crimes. The act also replaces The Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920.
WHAT IS THE ACT ABOUT?
The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, signed into law in 2022, broadens the definition of “measurements” to include iris and retina scans, pictures, finger imprints, palm-print impressions, footprint impressions, physical and biological samples, and their analysis. The bill also allows police to gather behavioral characteristics such as signatures and handwriting and any other examination referred to them under Sections 53 and 53A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Furthermore, the proposed Bill expanded the “ambit of persons” whose measurements can be taken to include anyone ordered by a Magistrate to provide their measurements and empowers police and prison staff to take measurements of anyone who refuses to do so. If you refuse to submit these measurements, you will be charged under Section 186 of the Indian Penal Code (obstructing a public servant in the performance of his or her duties).
WHO IS AUTHORIZED TO COLLECT AND STORE DATA
Unlike the 1920 statute, which provided the magistrate the ability to order the collection of particular prints for the purpose of aiding the investigation, the current law allows police officers or jail officials the authority to take measures. The National Crime Records Bureau will retain the information gathered by state governments and administrations in Union Territories. At the central level, the data will be retained for the purposes of prevention, detention, and identification. The information can be combined with other relevant data and communicated to the appropriate authorities and agencies. Data collected digitally or electronically can be kept for up to 75 years. The new law provides for the destruction of collected data in certain circumstances. After all legal procedures have been exhausted, the data of a person who has no prior convictions and is acquitted, dismissed, or not tried for the offense for which they were arrested can be erased. A magistrate may, however, refuse to delete the documents and must issue an order to that effect, along with reasons.
THE NEED OF INTRODUCING THE BILL BY THE GOVERNMENT
The Identification of Prisoners Act allows for the recording of only convicts’ finger and foot impressions, as well as some other categories of people, on the instructions of a magistrate, which the Centre claims gives access to a small group of people and a small amount of data. According to the Bill’s stated objectives, it is necessary to provide for the capture and recording of body measurements for the unique identification of a person involved in any crime, which will aid investigating agencies in solving criminal cases, due to the advancement of technology and modern techniques. This will put us on the level with other “advanced” nations.
THE PROVISIONS OF THE BILL THAT ARE CONTROVERSIAL
The bill allows for the collecting of some personally identifiable information about persons in the course of criminal investigations. Individuals’ personal data includes the information defined in the Bill, which is therefore protected under their right to privacy. The Supreme Court has declared the right to privacy to be a basic right (2017). The Court established principles that should be followed by any statute restricting this freedom. There must be a public purpose, a rational connection between the law and the objective, and this is the least disruptive means to achieve the goal. To put it another way, the invasion of privacy must be both essential and reasonable to the goal. Several parameters may cause the Bill to fail this test. It may also fail to meet the requirements of Article 14 of the Constitution for legislation to be just and reasonable, as well as for equality under the law. The problem arises because: (a) data can be collected not just from convicted people, but also from people arrested for any crime and from anyone else to aid an investigation; (b) the data collected does not have to be related to the evidence required for the case; (c) the data is stored in a central database that can be accessed widely and not just in the case file; (d) the data is stored for 75 years (effectively, for life); and (e) the data is stored for 75 years (effectively, for life); and (e) safeguards have been diluted by lowering the level of the official authorized to collect the data.
The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 is a step forward toward putting the nation on the level with other ‘advanced’ nations list. The law allows for the use of modern means to capture and record acceptable body dimensions, with the goal of authorizing the taking of measurements of convicts and other people for the purpose of identification and investigation in a criminal case as well as the preservation of records, among other things and, as it is also mentioned in the objective of the act that it is necessary to provide for the capture and recording of body measurements for the unique identification of a person involved in any crime, which will aid investigating agencies in solving criminal cases, due to the advancement of technology and modern techniques.
Author’s Name: Anvesha Chaturvedi (Dr. Shakuntala Misra National Rehabilitation University Lucknow)