Published on: April 16, 2022, at 08:22 IST
The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill 2022, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on March 28, 2022, and was passed on April 4, 2022. This Bill was introduced with the aim of replacing the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 and has further been passed by the Rajya Sabha on April 6, 2022.
The Bill was introduced with the objective of increasing the rate of conviction and making the collection of forensic and scientific evidence more effective and efficient. This Bill is the first major change that has taken place after the enactment of The Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 and is thus a significant one.
Key Features of the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022
The Bill has when compared to the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 served to widen the ambit in threefold ways:
- By increasing the scope of the information that can be collected
- By including not only the convicted but also arrested persons and persons detained under any preventive detention law
- By allowing persons of rank Head Constable or above to direct collection of evidence.
Other than increasing the scope of the provisions of the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 some other significant changes that have been brought about by this Bill are:
- Details that can be collected regarding persons: According to Section 2(b) of the Bill, the term ‘Measurements’ includes:
- palm-print impressions,
- foot-print impressions
- iris and retina scan
- physical, biological samples such as blood, semen, hair samples, and swabs and their analysis
- behavioral attributes including signatures
- handwriting or any other examination referred to in section 53 or section 53A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
- Persons whose details may be taken: According to Section 3 of the Bill, the following person must allow their measurements to be taken in any manner that has been prescribed by the Central or State Government:
- Those who have been convicted of an offense punishable under any law for the time being in force
- Those who have been ordered to give security for his good behavior or maintaining peace under section 117 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
- Those who have been arrested in connection with an offense that is punishable under any law for the time being in force or detained under any preventive detention law.
- But, an arrested person will not be obliged to give their biological samples unless they have committed an offense against a woman or a child, or an offense punishable with a minimum of seven years of imprisonment.
- Role of National Crime Records Bureau: Through Clause 1 of Section 4 of this Bill, the NCRB has been empowered to undertake the following actions:
- Collect the record of measurements from the State Government or any UT or any other law enforcement agency
- Store, preserve and destroy the record of measurements at the national level;
- Process such records with relevant crime and criminal records; and
- Share and disseminate such records with any law enforcement agency
- Retention of Details: Clause 2 of Section 4 of the Bill states that measurements will be recorded either in the digital or electronic form for a period of seventy-five years from the date of collection of such measurement unless the person:
- Has not previously been convicted for any offenses punishable under any law with imprisonment for any term,
- Has been released without trial or discharged or acquitted by the courts.
- Resistance to giving Details: According to Section 6 of the Bill, if any person who is required to have their measurements taken refuses to do, it shall be deemed to be an offense under Section 186 of the Indian Penal Code and it will be considered lawful for police or a prison officer to take the measurements in the prescribed manner.
- Persons who have the authority to collect details: This Bill permits the following to either collect measurements or direct the collecting the measurements:
- Police officers who are either the officer-in-charge of a police station or an officer not below the rank of Head Constable
- Prison officers not below the rank of Head Warder
- Powers of Magistrate: Under Section 5 of the Bill, a Magistrate may for the purpose of any investigation or proceeding under the CrPC or any other law may direct any person to give their measurements.
- Rule Making Power extended to the central government: Every rule made under this Bill by the Central Government or the State Government will be laid before the Parliament and the State Legislature respectively. They can make rules regarding:
- the manner of collecting details
- the manner of collection, storage, preservation, destruction, dissemination, and disposal of details by NCRB
Comparison with the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920
This Bill was introduced in order to authorize the process of taking measurements of convicts and other persons which is done for the purpose of identification and investigation of criminal matters. It also serves to preserve records for any matters connected to or incidental to the aforementioned.
Sub clause (a) of Section 2 of the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 defines “measurements” as including finger impressions and foot-print impressions. Section 5 of the same Act also states that a person may be ordered to be photographed only on permission by a Magistrate of the First class.
Some significant changes that have been made under the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 are:
- Addition of biological samples, and their analysis, behavioural attributes including signatures, handwriting, and examinations under sections 53 and 53A of CrPC (includes blood, semen, hair samples, and swabs, and analyses such as DNA profiling) under the ambit of measurements
- Under the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 the person who could collect data were the Investigating officer, the officer in charge of a police station, or of rank Sub-Inspector or above.
The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 has reduced the ranking to a Head Constable and has also included the Head Warder of a prison
- Under the Bill, measurements can be taken for any person convicted or arrested for any offence and not just those with rigorous imprisonment for 1 year.
Measurements of any person who is necessary for the investigation and not just the convicted may be collected on the orders of the Magistrate.
Arguments against the Bill
While the provisions of this Bill are designed to make the investigation process more efficient, it may unintentionally also lead to violation of some Fundamental Rights that have been guaranteed to the citizens by the Indian Constitution.
- Article 20(3): Right Against Self-Incrimination
The collection of measurements cannot be refused by the people if it is deemed necessary for the investigation process, and this includes not only the convicted but also any other person. It has been argued that this will result in a violation of Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution.
However, this contention has been rejected as it has been held by many courts that measurements such as finger-impression, voice-samples, etc. are not in the nature of a ‘personal testimony’.
In State of Bombay v. Kathi Kalu Oghad & Ors it has been held that self-incrimination must convey some information based upon the personal knowledge of the person giving the information and must not be mere production of documents.
Thus, the Court concluded that giving thumb impressions or impressions of foot or palm or fingers or specimen writings or showing parts of the body by way of identification are not included in the expression ‘To be a witness’ as the latter would mean imparting knowledge in respect of relevant facts by an oral statement or a statement in writing, made or given in court or otherwise.
- Article 21: Right to Life and Right to be Forgotten
The Bill contains that the measurements may be stored for a period of 75 years which is almost equal to the lifespan of a person.
The data will be stored in a central database and there is scope for misuse of this data because where there is discretion there is scope for arbitrariness. The data can only be deleted on the acquittal or discharge of a person.
The Supreme Court in the case of Justice K.S.Puttaswamy(Retd) vs Union Of India has held that the Right To Privacy is an integral part of the Right to Life and Liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
Natural rights are considered as inalienable and no civilized State can encroach upon the life and the personal liberty without the authority of law.
- Article 14: Equal Protection of the Laws
The Bill does not distinguish between the offences for which measurements can be collected and thus, it also includes petty offences. Not only this, but it also does not differentiate between convicted persons and those that have not been convicted but are considered as ‘necessary’ for the proceedings under the CrPC.
However, no safeguards or guidelines have been specified for the protection of such persons and their measurements.
The Bill states that the measurements may be shared with any ‘law enforcement agency’ but does not contain any comprehensive definition for it.
The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 was introduced with the aim to streamline the physical and biometric identification process and to strengthen the forensic capacity of the bodies involved.
This Bill has the objective of allowing sufficient legal evidence to be collected which will help in establishing the crime of an accused person and increase the rate of prosecution while simultaneously making the prosecution process easier.
Though the objective of this Bill is laudable, it suffers from some glaring defects namely the violation of Fundamental Rights under Articles 14, 20 and 21 which have been guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.
Thus, it can be said that, though this Bill is a progressive step toward including science and technology in convictions and making the process of conviction more efficient and effective, it is not a perfect Bill and may require some necessary amendments to guarantee the protection of the Fundamental Rights.
Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, s.53 ↑
Indian Penal Code, 1860, s.186 ↑
Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, ss. 2, 5, 7 ↑
State of Bombay v. Kathi Kalu Oghad & Ors. 1961 AIR 1808 ↑
Justice K.S.Puttaswamy(Retd) vs Union Of India AIR 2017 SC 4161 ↑
Edited by: Tanvee Jain, Publisher, Law Insider