Criminal Procedure Identification Bill 2022

8 Apr 2022  Read 2072 Views

It is an undisputable truth that the conviction rate in our country is very low & the conviction in IPC offences is about 40%. In states like West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Odisha and Karnataka it is less than 10%. In India, 9 out of 10 accused in sexual offences are let off in these states.

Now to improve this conviction rate, the government has come up with the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill. It has been passed by the parliament and it replaces Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920. 

Under this law investigating agencies can use modern technologies and techniques to solve crime such as collection of personal and biological data of individuals by police and maintenance of the database up to 75 years the bill expands the nature of data points which can be collected from individual such as palm print / footprint / finger impression, Iris and retina scan, behavioural attributes including signature, handwritings and other examinations under CrPC. Further police can collect data from any person, but only a selected category under preventive detention can be compelled by police. Without proper data protection Framework, such a law will collide with the right against self-information and right to privacy

Framework and Scope of Bill

The Lok Sabha passed the Criminal Procedure (Identity) Bill, 2022 by voice vote on April 04, 2022, with the entire opposition demanding that the bill be referred to a parliamentary standing committee for review.

On March 28, Minister of State for Home Ajay Kumar Mishra introduced the Criminal Procedure (Identity) Bill, 2022 in the Lok Sabha. It will allow police and prison authorities to collect, store and analyze physical and biological samples, including retinal and iris scans, of convicted, arrested and detained persons. At the introduction stage, opposition members opposed the bill, terming it "unconstitutional" and an attack on privacy.

The Bill broadens the scope of the types of data that can be collected, the person from whom such data may be collected, and the authority that may authorize such collection. It also provides for storing the data with the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

What is the legislation about?

The Bill seeks to repeal The Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920. The over 100-years-old Act’s scope was limited to capturing of finger impression, foot-print impressions and photographs of convicted prisoners and certain category of arrested and non-convicted persons on the order of a Magistrate. The objects and reasons of the 2022 Bill said that new “measurement” techniques being used in advanced countries are giving credible and reliable results and are recognised the world over. It said that the 1920 Act does not provide for taking these body measurements as many of the techniques and technologies has not been developed then. It authorizes the National Crime Records Bureau to collect, store, and preserve these details.

The widened scope of measurements and the applicability of the law will help the investigating agencies gathered sufficient legally admissible evidence and establish the crime of the accused

Objective of the Bill

  • To modernize the law enforcement agencies.

  • To have robust law enforcement system as in Advance economies.

  • Speedy, trial, and containment of criminal activities.

  • To increase prosecution rate, as lack of data lets criminals go away scout free.

  • Chance of better conviction rate.

Interesting Features of the Bill

  • Bill defines “measurements”- it included fingerprints, palm-print and foot-print impressions, photographs, iris and retina scan, physical appearances, biological samples and their analysis

  • Authorises police to record signatures, handwriting other behavioural attributes for the analytical purpose

  • Empowers a Magistrate- to direct any person to give measurements; a Magistrate can also direct law enforcement officials to collect such data both in the case of convicted and non-convicted persons of specified category. 

  • Empowers the National Crime Records Bureau to collect, store and preserve the data for future use by law agencies.

  • Under the new Bill, those who refuse can be charged under section 186 of the Indian Penal Code on Charges of obstructing public servant from discharging their duty.

  • Striking feature- The National Crime Record Bureau will be the repository of such measurements in digital and electronic form for at least 75 years and the records are to be destroyed in the case any person who has not been previously convicted of an offence and discharged or acquitted by the court.

Key issues to be considered w.r.t. new bill

  • The new bill directly attacks the privacy of an individual and puts at risk the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.

  • The Bill does not limit the measurement required for a particular investigation. Important details may be collected if you are charged with reckless driving. It also does not specifically prevent the collection of a DNA sample.

  • The Bill makes it mandatory to collect vital details of the "other person" for identification and investigation in a criminal case, which expands the scope of the person whose details can be taken.

  • The data collected should have no relation to the evidence value in the case and can be widely accessed in 75 years.

  • Law enforcement officials can harass citizens and misuse the data collected, resulting in infringement of personal property

  • The data retention provisions of the Bill are in contrast to the data minimization and storage limits as stated earlier in the Aadhaar decision.

  • The bill has been termed as a violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.

1920 Act and Changes in the 2022 Bill

1920 Act

Changes in the 2022 Bill

It allows the collection of photographs, finger impressions and foot impressions

It allows palm-print impressions, Iris and retina scans, signature and handwriting, physical and biological samples such as blood, semen, hair samples etc. 

Convicted of an Offence punishable with the Rigorous Imprisonment for One Year or more

Convicted of an offence punishable under any law for the time being in force

Persons ordered to give security for good behaviour or maintain peace under section 117 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

Ordered to give security for good behaviour or maintain peace under section 117 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

Persons arrested in connection with an offence punishable with at least one year of rigorous imprisonment.

Arrested in connection with an offence punishable under any law for the time being in force or detailed under any preventive detention law.

Conclusion 

The Identification Bill, 2022, prima facie, fails to satisfy the test laid down by the Supreme Court in the landmark decision in K.S. Puttaswamy (2017).  The collection and processing of sensitive personal data such as biometric and biological samples for the purpose of identification do not, satisfy the test of proportionality. The absence of any opportunity of hearing for persons refusing to allow their measurements to be taken highlights the failure to meet the State’s aim for promoting justice, as provided under Article 39A of the Constitution. Finally, there remains wide scope for misuse and data leakages taken place in absence of robust Data Protection framework.

About the Author: Shikha Rohra | 18 Post(s)

Shikha is a graduate from HNLU, Raipur and has an interest in content writing. She is an ambivert with a sarcastic sense of humor and her favorite guilty pleasure is over-using social media.

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