Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 – UPSC GS2

Context: Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 was introduced in the Lok Sabha.
Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022
  • As per the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill of 2022, Police and prison officials would be able to collect, retain, and analyse physical and biological evidence, including retina and iris scans.
  • According to the bill, these procedures would also apply to anybody detained under any preventative detention law.
  • The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will store physical and biological samples, as well as signature and handwriting data, for at least 75 years.
  • The Identification of Prisoners Act of 1920 is set to be replaced by the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill of 2022.
  • Officers in charge of police stations or those not below the rank of head constable are also required to take “measures,” with records of these measurements being kept for 75 years from the date of collection.
  • The Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 involved only finger impressions and footprint impressions. The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 has expanded its coverage to include palm-print impressions, iris and retina scans, physical and biological samples, behavioural attributes, etc. This will ease the process of identification and investigations in criminal matters.
  • The Bill also expands the individuals it seeks to cover which will ensure that a thorough investigation can be carried out by investigating suspected and accused persons.
  • Lack of Clarity:
    • Several provisions are not defined in the Bill itself. 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.
  • Tool of Harassment:
    • The Bill allows those “ordered to give security for his good behaviour or maintaining peace under section 117 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973” to be compelled to share biometric data.
    • These provisions can be used to harass a wide range of individuals who are simply “suspected” of committing an offence or “likely” to commit one.
  • Conflict with Fundamental Rights:
    • Bill is beyond the legislative competence of Parliament as it violates the fundamental rights of citizens, including the right to privacy under Article 21.
    • The proposed law will be debated against Article 20(3) of the Constitution, which is a fundamental right that guarantees the right against self-incrimination.
  • Fear of Misuse of Provisions:
    • To the extent that the proposed Bill brings a legal framework for police surveillance using technology, experts fear that it could be expanded or misused.
  • Right To Be Forgotten:
    • The Bill brings to focus the rights of prisoners and the right to be forgotten since biometric data can be stored for 75 years.
    • While the jurisprudence around the right to be forgotten is still in an early stage in India, the Puttaswamy judgment discusses it as a facet of the fundamental right to privacy.
Previous Year Questions:
Q 1.) ‘Right to Privacy’ is protected under which Article of the Constitution of India?
(a) Article 15
(b) Article 19
(c) Article 21
(d) Article 29
Ans: (c)
  • In Puttaswamy v. Union of India case, 2017, the Right to Privacy was declared a fundamental right by the Supreme Court.
  • Right to Privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the Right to Life and Personal Liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Indian Constitution.
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