23 Sep Rules notified for the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022
Rules notified for the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022
CONTEXT: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) recently notified rules for The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 which gives legal sanction to law enforcement agencies to collect, store and analyze and disseminate measurements of convicts for the purpose of identification and investigation of criminal matters. The topic is based on how Rules notified for the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 impacts Indian polity and governance.
MEANING AND PURPOSE OF MEASUREMENTS
As per the rules, “measurements” include finger impressions, palm-print, footprints, photographs, iris, and retina scan, physical, and biological samples and their analysis, behavioral attributes including signatures, handwriting or any other examination referred to in Section 53 or Section 53A of the Code of Criminal Procedure(CrPC), 1973. Section 53 and Section 53A of CrPC refer to blood, blood stains, semen, swabs in case of sexual offenses, sputum and sweat, hair samples, and fingernail clippings by the use of modern and scientific techniques including DNA profiling, name, address, and age of the person. The main purpose of including measurements is:
1. Ascertaining the identity of the culprit.
2. To establish if a previously convicted person has committed a similar offense again.
3. Establish a previous conviction of the person
Key Features Of The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act
- The act permits the taking of samples by Police not only from convicts but also from those under preventive detention, persons ordered to give security for good behavior or maintaining peace, and any person who is arrested for any offense. This includes all measurements except biological samples. Biological samples can be taken only in cases where the offense involves crimes against women or children or crimes punishable with imprisonment of fewer than 7 years.
- The Magistrate is empowered to pass an order compelling any person to give measurements.
- The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is the nodal agency to collect, store, preserve and destroy the records of measurements. It can also share such records with any law enforcement agency.
- The data so collected will be retained in digital form for 75 years. It will be destroyed if the person is acquitted or released without a trial.
- Refusal or resistance by a person from giving samples will attract criminal liability.
The Need for New Act
- The act repeals the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920. The 1920 did not have provisions for collecting all the biological samples other than fingerprints and foot impressions, which are covered under the new act since most of these techniques were not developed by that time. The Law Commission’s 87th report also recommended amending various provisions of the 1920 act.
- The old act permitted sample collection of those persons who are arrested or convicted of offenses punishable with rigorous imprisonment of one year or more, the new act has been liberal and allows data collection of persons arrested or convicted for any crime.
1. Ambiguity due to undefined terms
- The Bill fails to provide an exact definition of ‘measurements’.Terms such as ‘analysis’, ‘biological samples’ and ‘behavioral attributes’ used under the definition of ‘measurements’ are open to varying interpretations which leads to ambiguity.
- The bill empowers NCRB to disseminate this data of persons arrested or convicted but does not state for what purpose this data may be shared and the extent of information that can be shared.
2. Against Constitutional Safeguards
- The act is in conflict with the triple test for privacy- Legality, Legitimate State Purpose and Proportionality. they are given in the judgment of Puttaswamy & Anr. v. Union of India. The act fulfills the first two tests but is alleged to be not proportionate. Hence, it is Against the Right to Privacy under Article 21. It also goes against the Right to be forgotten given in the judgment as allowing storing of data for 75 years is a long time span.
- Against the Right to Equality under Article 14 which is against arbitrariness and unreasonable classification as gives wide discretionary powers to Magistrate to give orders compelling the accused to give samples.
- Violation of the Right against Self-Incrimination under Article 20(3)
3. Issues of ethics and Regulation
- The act fails to differentiate between categories of accused persons on the basis of the nature of the offense. Hence, a person accused of even a petty offense may be treated at par with a person accused of a heinous crime.
- The act does not deal in detail with procedural safeguards for the collection, storage, processing, sharing, and destruction of these measurements. This may lead to the abuse of data for surveillance purposes.
While inculcating scientific methods of investigation is a dire need for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the investigation process, the collection of sensitive information about the accused and making a database of it needs to be approached with caution. Fundamental Rights can only encroach if the restrictions are reasonable and far-fetched invasion of bodily integrity cannot be acceptable. Any infringement of such data can have far-reaching consequences and the State should be well-equipped to guard such data.
- Squarespace (An Analysis of the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022”- Project 39A, National Law University Delhi)
- The Hindu [Explained | What is the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022?]
- The Hindu (Explained | Rules for identifying criminals)
- PRSIndia [(The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022]
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