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Author: Krishnapriya.P.D., II year of B.B.A.,LL.B. from Government Law College Thrissur

The criminal procedure identification act was passed by the parliament in April. The new law replaces the Identification of prisoner act of 1920. The legislation has however come under far criticism from the opposition stating that it is a clear invasion of a person's privacy and freedom.

The new bill replaced the Identification of prisoner act 1920 under which fingerprint impressions and photographs could be collected from a limited category of convicts who are arrested for serious offenses with an imprisonment of one year or more only by the order of a magistrate. An investigating officer, the officer in charge of a police station, or a rank sub-inspector or above are the persons who may require for the collection of the data. Resistance to taking measurements will amount to an offense under the Indian code.

The criminal procedure of identification act 2022 provides a legal sanction to the police to take physical and biological samples such as fingerprints, iris, and retina scans, analysis of physical and biological samples, behavioral attributes as well as handwriting and signature can be collected as per section 53 or 53A of CRPC. As it is evident that the bill Widers the amount of data collected including biometrical, physical, biological, and behavioral attributes from any person convicted, arrested, or detained under preventive detention. The samples may be taken forcibly from persons arrested for crimes against women and children or if the offense carries a minimum of 7 years of imprisonment. It doesn’t define the other persons implied in the bill. The new bill also lows the level of police officers who take the measurements to an officer in charge of a police station or a head constable or above or it can be headward of a prison. The direction for the collection of samples will be given by the metropolitan magistrate, a judicial magistrate of the first class, or an executive magistrate if a person is required to maintain good behavior. National Crime Records Bureau which is headquartered in New Delhi will store, process, share and destroy the data. It will be stored in a central database and can be accessed widely. The data will be stored for 75 years in electronic form. The information about the first-time offenders who are released will be deleted after the legal procedures and the magistrate has the power to order this deletion. An authorized user in order to match the record of measurements of a person shall request the NCRB which shall match the record and provide the report through a secured network to the authorized user. The request for the destruction of record shall be made to the nodal officer that is nominated by the state, central government or the union territory. It is the duty of the nodal officer to verify that such record of measurements is not linked with any of the criminal cases before destruction.

In 1980 the 87th report of the law commission of India undertook a review of the previous legislation as well as recommended some amendments. In the case state of U. P vs Ram Babu Misra, the supreme court highlighted the need to Amed this law. The first and second recommendations laid out the need to amend this act which was to expand the measurements to include palm impressions, the specimen of signature of writing and voice as well as to allow measurements to be taken for the proceedings other than under the code of the criminal procedure. Advancements in forensics will surely strengthen the investigation as the new act will make use of modern technology to gather all the legally admissible evidence. The investigation agencies will always be two steps ahead of the criminals The union minister Amith Shah assured that the government will take all the necessary precautions to prevent the misuse of the law.

However, the bill still shows a misuse against the individuals by the police force and other law enforcement agencies. Unlike the old law, this bill allows the authority to take the measurements not only for the convicts but also for the persons who are merely associated with it. The bill will dilute the fundamental rights of the citizens which is article 20[3] which is the prohibition against self-incrimination. The right to privacy is guaranteed to every citizen of India including the convicted or arrested. The phrase biological samples are not described as it could lead to the invasion of the body such as DNA or drawing out of blood and hair. The records are stored for 75 years which is a person's life span as these records can be again used as it can affect the person's reputation. A child or a woman may refuse to take the measurements as they are unaware of the provision as it may be easier for the officials to ignore these refusals.

As it is evident that a pure concern over the privacy and safety of a person, the storage, retrieval, and destruction of vital details the bill requires a strong data protection law with strict punishments for its breach. Better data protection law will ensure better implementation of this law as it is a grave disservice to the victims of the crime and the nation. More experts to collect measurements from the scene of the crime, and more forensic lab and equipment is needed to identify the possible accused involved in this crime.




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