The parliament recently passed THE CRIMINAL PROCEDURE (IDENTIFICATION) BILL 2022. The bill has drawn public discussions on the right to privacy. The purpose of the bill is to re-define ‘‘measurements’’ to include finger impressions, palm-print, and foot-print impressions, photographs, iris and retina scan, physical, biological samples and their analysis, etc, the bill also seeks to empower the National Crime Records Bureau of India to collect, store and preserve the record of measurements and for sharing, dissemination, destruction, and disposal of records; (iii) to empower a Magistrate to direct any person to give measurements; (iv) to empower police or prison officer to take measurements of any person who resists or refuses to give measurements.
THE IDENTIFICATION OF PRISONERS ACT, 1920, included only finger impressions and footprint impressions. Criminal procedure identification bill 2022 prescribes under section 3 that any person convicted of an offence punishable under any law for the time being in force or arrested in connection with an offence punishable under any law for the time being in force or detained under any preventive detention law.
The act(THE IDENTIFICATION OF PRISONERS ACT, 1920), that existed before this bill had only sought to take measurements of convicted of any offence punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term of one year or upwards, or of any or Any person who has been arrested in connection with an offence punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term of one year or upwards shall, if so required by a police officer, allow his measurements to be taken in the prescribed manner. The bill allows NCRB to preserve the data for at least 75 years. The NCRB has also been empowered to share the records with other law enforcement agencies. It also authorises law enforcement agencies to take measurements of convicts and “any other persons” for identification and investigation in criminal matters, on the order of a magistrate. Any state government of Union Territory administration may notify an appropriate agency to collect, preserve and share the measurements of a person of interest in their respective jurisdictions. The new also penalises individuals if they refuse to allow authorities from taking sufficient measurements and data While consent will taken before taking biological samples, the bill provides for forceful collection of such samples from persons arrested for offences against a woman or a child, or if the offence carries a minimum of seven years imprisonment.
The new bill also expands the “ambit of persons” whose measurements can be collected will help the investigating agencies to obtain necessary legally admissible evidence and establish the crime of the accused person. The proposed bill will minimise the threat from organised crime, cybercriminals and terrorists who are proficient in identity theft and identity fraud. The bill will help to check serious national and global threats posed by them
Criminal identification bill 2022 expands the scope of measurements and empowers under section 4 to store, preserve and destroy the record of measurements at national level and also share and disseminate such records with any law enforcement agency.
While drawing inferences it is necessary to create a balanced approach toward the individual rights to privacy and the interest of the state. The Supreme Court has, however, clarified that like most other fundamental rights, the right to privacy is not an “absolute right”. Subject to the satisfaction of certain tests and benchmarks, a person’s privacy interests can be overridden by competing state and individual interests. right to privacy within the Constitutional setup could be a daunting task. Further, such a right would have to stand the test of fast-changing times wherein new avenues, technological advancements, and fields are rapidly emerging.
In the present scenario what is important to consider is the change that has been brough through section 3 of this bill whereby any person who is convicted of any offence even category of bailable offences have to submit their measurements. The government has failed to address the need to tak measurements of person who have committed bailable offences. The absence of any passing of data protection law, can pose a danger to citizens’ right to privacy.
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