The government introduced a new bill to collect prisoners’ physical, biological samples. Let us see the details of the New Bill To introduce Take Bio Samples Of Accused/Citizens.
WHAT HAS HAPPENED?
The government introduced (New Bill To Introduce Take Bio Samples Of Accused) the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 in Lok Sabha on Monday amid strong protests from the Opposition. The Bill proposes to allow the police and prison authorities to collect, store and analyze physical and biological samples including retina and iris scans.
WHAT IS THE PROPOSED LAW? What is the New Bill To Introduce Take Bio Samples Of Accused
The Criminal Procedure ( Identification ) Bill, 2022, introduced by Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra in Lok Sabha, Compels certain individuals, convicted and accused of offenses, to share biological personal data. This has raised concerns about the excess state surveillance and violation of privacy.
According to the text of the Bill, it is ” to authorize for taking ” measurements of convicts and other persons for the purposes of identification and investigation in criminal matters and to preserve records and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto”.
Section 2 (1 ) ( b ) of the Bill defines ” measurements ” to include finger impressions, palm-print impressions, footprint impressions, photographs, iris and retina scans, physical and biological samples and their analysis, behavioral attributes including signatures and handwriting, or any other examination referred to in Section 53 or Section 53A of the Code of Criminal Procedure ( CrPC ), 1973.
The law also seeks to replace the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 which applied to the collection of ” measurements ” for mostly those who were convicted and who would serve a prison sentence. Measurements under the 1920 Act involved only finger impressions and footprint impressions.
WHO DOES THE LAW APPLY TO?
Compared to the 1920 Act, the Bill expands the individuals it seeks to cover. It proposes that the law applies to three categories of individuals: – Those convicted of an offense punishable under any law for the time being in force. – Those ordered to give security for good behavior or maintaining peace under Section 117 of the CrPC. These are provisions involving ” suspected criminals ” or ” habitual offenders ” with a view to preventing crime.
Those arrested in connection with an offense are punishable under any law in force or detained under any preventive detention law. This would include the National Security Act or the Public Safety Act.
HOW WILL THIS DATA BE STORED?
The Bill states that the National Crime Records Bureau ( NCRB ) shall be entrusted with the biological data collected, The NCRB can collect the record of measurements from the state government or Union Territory Administration concerned, or any other law – enforcement agencies, and Will have the power to store, preserve and destroy the record of measurements at the national level and share and disseminate such records with any law enforcement agency.
Given that policing is still a state subject, it remains to be seen if any states refuse to share this information. But the Bill provides a legal framework for police to carry out surveillance using technology. The modalities of collection, storage, or use of this data will be prescribed in rules by the government and are not outlined in the Bill, except that the record of measurements shall be retained in digital or electronic form for a period of 75 years from the date of collection.
ISSUES BEING RAISED? (What issues were raised in New Bill To Introduce Take Bio Samples Of Accused)
LACK OF CLARITY: Several provisions are not defined in the Bill itself. For a law that impacts fundamental rights, this can raise concerns. For instance, the statement of objects says it provides for the collection of measurements for ” convicts and other persons ” but the expression ” other persons ” is not defined. It does include those accused of certain offenses, but it can be argued that the police could use the law to expand it to others.
CONFLICT WITH FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS: Opposition members argued that the Bill was beyond the legislative competence of Parliament as it violated the fundamental rights of citizens including the right to privacy – The Constitution states that Parliament can bring no law that violates the fundamental rights of citizens.
The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Puttaswamy v Union of India, which recognized the right to privacy as a fundamental right, made it clear that any state action infringing on the right needs. to be backed by legislation.
OTHER CONCERNS: The Bill also brings to focus the rights of prisoners and the right to be forgotten since biometric data can be stored for 75 years.
LESSONS FROM THE PAST
Notably, in 2009, India’s most wanted terrorist and the operations chief of the Indian Mujahideen, Ahmed Zarar Siddibappa alias Yasin Bhatkal, was arrested by Kolkata Police in a case of theft. However, he was identified as ” Bulla Malik ” based on fake identity documents and was let off after a few days.
He went on to engineer a series of blasts in Pune and Mumbai after this until he was apprehended in Nepal in 2013. The episode remains a reminder of the need to integrate the fingerprint database and face recognition in criminal investigations.
Conclusion in the New Bill To Introduce Take Bio Samples Of Accused, the government has been digitizing fingerprints since the time the UPA was in power, with a plan to integrate all fingerprints available with states and the Centre, Into the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS), the national database on crimes and criminals. After the Narendra Modi government came to power in 2014, it embarked on a project to integrate IRIS scans and facial recognition systems too with it.