Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act 2022

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Manifest pedagogy:

The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act 2022, which was passed by Parliament in April this year, came into force recently. The new law allows investigators to collect certain identifiable information about convicts and other persons for the purposes of identification and criminal investigation. .The Bill replaces the Identification of Prisoners Act 1920. The aim of the legislation is to improve the conviction rate in the country, protect the human rights of millions of law-abiding citizens and send a strong message to society. But the legislation violates fundamental rights and undermines individual liberty and privacy.

In the news :The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill 2022 was recently passed by Parliament. The bill seeks to replace the 1920 Prisoner Identification Act.

Place it in the Syllabus: Policy and governance.

Static dimensions

Current sizes

  • Main features of the bill
  • Comparison of the main provisions of the 1920 law and the 2022 bill
  • Meaning of their bill
  • Problems with the invoice

Contents

Background

  • The Prisoners Identification Act, 1920 allows police officers to collect certain identifiable information (fingerprints and footprints) from people, including convicted and arrested persons.
    • In addition, a magistrate may order the taking of measurements or photographs of a person to facilitate the investigation of an offence.
    • If the person is acquitted or released, all the material must be destroyed.
  • There have been advances in technology that allow other measures to be used for criminal investigations.
    • The DNA Technology Regulation (Use and Application) Bill 2019 (pending at Lok Sabha) provides a framework for using DNA technology for this purpose.
  • In 1980, the Law Commission of India, when reviewing the 1920 Act, noted the need to revise it to bring it into line with modern trends in criminal investigation.
  • In March 2003, the Expert Committee on Criminal Justice Reforms (President: Dr Justice VS Malimath) recommended amending the 1920 Act to empower the Magistrate to authorize the collection of data such as blood samples for DNA, hair, saliva and semen.

Main features of the bill

  • The bill expands: the type of data that can be collected,
    • Persons from whom this 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 the 1920 Act and the 2022 Bill, resistance or refusal to provide data will be considered an offense of obstructing a public official in the performance of his or her duties.
  • The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will be the central agency responsible for maintaining the records. It will share the data with law enforcement.
    • Additionally, States/UTs may require agencies to collect, maintain and share data within their respective jurisdictions.
  • The data collected will be stored in digital or electronic form for 75 years. Records will be destroyed in the case of persons who are acquitted after all appeals, or released without trial.
    • However, in such cases, a court or magistrate may order the preservation of the particulars after recording the reasons in writing.

Comparison of the main provisions of the 1920 law and the 2022 bill

1920 Act Changes in the 2022 Bill
Data authorized to be collected
  • Fingerprints, footprints, photographs
  • Adds: (i) biological samples and their analysis, (ii) behavioral attributes, including signatures, handwriting, and (iii) examinations under sections 53 and 53A of the CrPC (includes blood, semen, hair samples and swabs, and analyzes such as DNA profiling)
Persons whose data may be collected
  • Convicted or arrested for offenses punishable by rigorous imprisonment of one year or more
  • Persons Summoned to Bond for Good Conduct or Keeping the Peace
  • The magistrate may in other cases order the collection of any person arrested to facilitate the criminal investigation.
  • Convicted or arrested for any offence. However, biological samples can only be forcibly taken from persons arrested for offenses against a woman or child, or if the offense carries a minimum of seven years imprisonment.
  • Persons detained under a remand law
  • On the order of the magistrate, of any person (not only an arrested person) to facilitate the investigation
Persons who may request/collect data directly
  • Investigating officer, officer in charge of a police station or of rank sub-inspector or above
  • Officer in charge of a police station, or of the rank of Chief of Police or above. Additionally, a prison warden
  • Metropolitan Magistrate or First Class Judicial Magistrate. In the case of persons bound to keep good conduct or peace, the Executive Magistrate

Meaning of the bill

  • This will make criminal investigations more efficient and faster and also help to increase the conviction rate.
  • Provisions for the use of modern techniques to capture and record appropriate body measurements.
  • The bill says there is a need to broaden the ‘scope of persons’ from whom action can be taken, as it will help investigative agencies gather enough legally admissible evidence and establish the accused’s crime .
  • Check the serious national and global threats they pose.

Problems with the invoice

  • Data may be collected not only from convicted persons, but also from persons arrested for any offense and from any other person to facilitate an investigation.
  • The data collected does not need to relate to the evidence required for the case.
  • Data is stored in a widely accessible central database and not just in the folder
  • The data is kept for 75 years (in fact, for life).
    • The data would only be deleted in the event of a final acquittal or release of a person arrested for an offence. Storing the data in a central database and potentially using it for future infringement research may also fall short of necessity and proportionality standards.
  • Safeguards have been diluted by lowering the level of official authorized to collect data.
    • It lowers the level of the policeman who can take action (from sub-inspector to chief of police) and also allows the director of a prison to take action.
  • The bill expands the scope of data to be collected to include biometrics (fingerprints, palm prints, foot prints, iris and retina scans), physical and biological samples (undefined but may include blood , semen, saliva, etc.), and behavioral attributes (signature, handwriting and may include voice samples).
    • It does not limit the measures to those required for a specific investigation
  • He violates Section 20 (3) of the Constitution which guarantees the rights of citizens by stipulating that “no one accused of an offense may be compelled to testify against himself”.

Go forward

  • The need is to have more experts to collect measurements at crime scenes, more forensic laboratories and equipment to analyze them in order to identify possible defendants involved in a criminal case.
  • The need of the hour is that a strong data protection law, with tough penalties for breaches, should be in place.
  • Sensitive personal information collected, stored, retained and shared under the bill must be relevant and limited to the purposes for which such information is collected and stored.

Shape your thoughts

  1. The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act 2022 will close the loopholes present in the Indian criminal justice system. Critical analysis. (250 words).

Approach to response.

  • Background to the case.
  • Provisions of the bill.
  • Its importance and how it is better than the previous version.
  • Problems with the invoice
  • Way forward and conclusion.
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