The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act 2022 has been passed by Parliament. Read here to know the significance of the act.
The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act 2022 has come into force after being passed by Parliament in April 2022.
- It replaces the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, a colonial-era law, and authorizes police officers to take measurements of people convicted, arrested, or facing trial in criminal cases.
There have been advances in technology that allow other measurements to be used for criminal investigations.
- The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019 (pending in Lok Sabha) provides a framework for using DNA technology for this purpose.
- In 1980, the Law Commission of India, while examining the 1920 Act, noted the need to revise it to bring it in line with modern trends in criminal investigation.
- In 2003, the Expert Committee on Reforms of the Criminal Justice System amended the 1920 Act to empower the Magistrate to authorize the collection of data such as blood samples for DNA, hair, saliva, and semen
Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920
The Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 allows police officers to collect certain identifiable information (fingerprints and footprints) of persons including convicts and arrested persons.
Also, a Magistrate may order measurements or photographs of a person to be taken to aid the investigation of an offense. In case of acquittal or discharge of the person, all material must be destroyed.
Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act 2022
The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 was introduced in Lok Sabha on March 28, 2022.
The Bill describes:
- the type of data that may be collected
- persons from whom such data may be collected
- the authority that may authorize such collection.
- It also provides for the data to be stored in a central database.
Under both the 1920 Act and the 2022 Bill, resistance or refusal to give data will be considered an offence of obstructing a public servant from doing his duty.
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will be the central agency to maintain the records.
- It will share the data with law enforcement agencies.
- States/UTs may notify agencies to collect, preserve, and share data in their respective jurisdictions.
The data collected will be retained in digital or electronic form for 75 years.
- Records will be destroyed in case of persons who are acquitted after all appeals or released without trial.
- However, in such cases, a Court or Magistrate may direct the retention of details after recording reasons in writing.
The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973 has provisions that allow for the collection of data from convicts.
- CrPC deals with the procedural aspects of criminal law and allows investigating agencies the power to collect, store and analyze data for criminal investigations.
Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 Vs Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act 2022
Significance of the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act 2022
The Act makes provisions for the use of modern techniques to capture and record appropriate body measurements.
It expands the scope of persons whose measurements can be taken.
- This will help the investigating agencies to gather sufficient legally admissible evidence and establish the crime of the accused person.
It provides legal sanction for taking appropriate body measurements of persons who are required to give such measurements.
- This will make the investigation of crime more efficient and expeditious and will also help in increasing the conviction rate.
Issues with the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act 2022
The act may violate the Right to Privacy and Equality. The issue arises because:
- data can be collected not just from convicted persons but also from persons arrested for any offence and from any other person to aid an investigation
- the data collected does not need to have any relationship with the evidence required for the case
- the data is stored in a central database which can be accessed widely and not just in the case file
- the data is stored for 75 years (effectively, for life)
- safeguards have been diluted by lowering the level of the official authorized to collect the data
The phrase ‘biological samples’ is not elaborated properly; hence, it could involve bodily invasions for the collection of DNA samples.
- This may involve a violation of Article 20(3), which protects the right against self-incrimination.
The issues over the violation of privacy and equality are significant and hence should be addressed in their graveness.
The act is important as it enables the use of modern technology for solving crimes which are necessary to serve justice to victims of crimes.
The procedure for the collection of evidence should be handled by experts under strict protocols to avoid violation of any law.
The long-term storage of data should be covered under stringent data protection laws.
Read: Revised Criminal Laws