Hindustantimes wants to start sending you push notifications. Click allow to subscribe

Explainer: What the draft criminal procedure bill means

Updated on Mar 29, 2022 11:55 AM IST

The draft law seeks to repeal an existing act – the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920.

PREMIUM
A view of the Lok Sabha during the second part of Budget session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Monday. (PTI)
ByNeeraj Chauhan, New Delhi

The Centre on Monday introduced a new bill – the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill 2022, which authorizes the law enforcement authorities to collect, store and analyse the measurements of all convicts and detained persons including their physical and biological samples such as retina and iris scan.

What is the bill about?

The bill makes it mandatory for persons suspected to be involved in a crime, arrested, detained etc to allow police to take such measurements and empowers the National Crime Records Bureau of India (NCRB) to collect, store and preserve the record of such measurements. The NCRB will be the main repository of this data and will be able to share, disseminate it with agencies and states/union territories as well destruct and dispose of the records. It can retain such measurements for 75 years in digital or electronic form.

The details law enforcement will be able to capture following passing of this bill include finger-impressions, palm-print impressions, foot-print impressions, photographs, iris and retina scan, physical, biological samples and their analysis, behavioural attributes including signatures, handwriting or any other examination referred to in section 53 or section 53A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

It seeks to repeal the existing act – the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920.

Resistance to or refusal to allow the taking of measurements under this act shall be deemed to be an offence under section 186 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the new bill says.

How is it different from data collected under Aadhaar?

Similar biometrics data is already collected across the country by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) under Aadhaar. However, as per section 29 of the Aadhaar Act, biometrics data cannot be used or shared for criminal investigation purposes.

Hence, the government had to bring a separate law in this regard.

How did the bill come about?

Around 2018-19, the Central Finger Print Bureau (CFPB) under the NCRB, in consultation with the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), both under the ministry of home affairs (MHA), proposed changes/amendments to the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920. A proposal was sent to the MHA and views of states/union territories were sought. The key amendments proposed were: Change of title to “Identification of Arrested and Suspected Persons” Act; inclusion of biometrics such as palm impressions, voice samples, iris Scan, DNA typing, etc. and power for the magistrate to order for taking measurements of juveniles.

After a lot of discussions and various changes, the new bill was introduced in the parliament after MHA approval.

Which countries collect such data?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the US used Electronic Biometric Transmission Specification (EBTS), which includes biometric collection such as palm print, facial, and iris.

A few other western countries also collect similar data, mainly for terrorism related cases, according to an officer who didn’t want to be named.

What is the government’s argument?

Union home minister of state for home, Ajay Mishra Teni, while introducing the bill, said it will help in increasing the conviction rate.

The government has said the existing law - the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, which was enacted to authorise taking of measurements and photographs of convicts and other persons, has limited scope as it allowed recording of finger impressions and foot-print impressions of limited category of convicted and non-convicted persons and photographs on the order of a magistrate.

“The new measurement’ techniques being used in advanced countries are giving credible and reliable results and are recognised world over. The (current) act does not provide for taking these body measurements as many of the techniques and technologies had not been developed at that point of time. It is, therefore, essential to make provisions for modern techniques to capture and record appropriate body measurements in place of existing limited measurements,” the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill said.

It is considered necessary to expand the ‘‘ambit of persons’’ whose measurements can be taken as this will help the investigating agencies to gather sufficient legally admissible evidence and establish the crime of the accused person, it said.

Therefore, it said, there is a need for expanding the scope and ambit of the ‘‘measurements’’ which can be taken under the provisions of law as it will help in unique identification of a person involved in any crime and will assist the investigating agencies in solving the criminal case.

Why is opposition against the bill?

The opposition parties vehemently opposed the bill saying it is unconstitutional.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the bill seeks to empower the police and the court to take measurements of persons who are undertrial and who are suspected to be involved in a case, which is violative of Article 21 of the constitution.

TMC leader Sougata Roy requested the Lok Sabha speaker not to allow the introduction of an “incorrect” bill. The opposition demanded a division on the leave to introduce the bill, in which 120 members voted in favour and 58 against.

What do cops say?

Neeraj Kumar, retired Indian Police Service (IPS) and former Delhi Police Commissioner, said “This was much awaited. Not only it will help in tracing criminals, particularly habitual offenders, quickly on the basis of various parameters available in a central repository accessible to all police stations, but also provide a robust evidence management.”

Asked if such a law will infringe on rights of people only suspected to have committed a crime, Kumar said – “If you are innocent, there should not be any problem in giving your measurements”.

The Centre on Monday introduced a new bill – the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill 2022, which authorizes the law enforcement authorities to collect, store and analyse the measurements of all convicts and detained persons including their physical and biological samples such as retina and iris scan.

What is the bill about?

The bill makes it mandatory for persons suspected to be involved in a crime, arrested, detained etc to allow police to take such measurements and empowers the National Crime Records Bureau of India (NCRB) to collect, store and preserve the record of such measurements. The NCRB will be the main repository of this data and will be able to share, disseminate it with agencies and states/union territories as well destruct and dispose of the records. It can retain such measurements for 75 years in digital or electronic form.

The details law enforcement will be able to capture following passing of this bill include finger-impressions, palm-print impressions, foot-print impressions, photographs, iris and retina scan, physical, biological samples and their analysis, behavioural attributes including signatures, handwriting or any other examination referred to in section 53 or section 53A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

It seeks to repeal the existing act – the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920.

Resistance to or refusal to allow the taking of measurements under this act shall be deemed to be an offence under section 186 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the new bill says.

How is it different from data collected under Aadhaar?

Similar biometrics data is already collected across the country by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) under Aadhaar. However, as per section 29 of the Aadhaar Act, biometrics data cannot be used or shared for criminal investigation purposes.

Hence, the government had to bring a separate law in this regard.

How did the bill come about?

Around 2018-19, the Central Finger Print Bureau (CFPB) under the NCRB, in consultation with the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), both under the ministry of home affairs (MHA), proposed changes/amendments to the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920. A proposal was sent to the MHA and views of states/union territories were sought. The key amendments proposed were: Change of title to “Identification of Arrested and Suspected Persons” Act; inclusion of biometrics such as palm impressions, voice samples, iris Scan, DNA typing, etc. and power for the magistrate to order for taking measurements of juveniles.

After a lot of discussions and various changes, the new bill was introduced in the parliament after MHA approval.

Which countries collect such data?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the US used Electronic Biometric Transmission Specification (EBTS), which includes biometric collection such as palm print, facial, and iris.

A few other western countries also collect similar data, mainly for terrorism related cases, according to an officer who didn’t want to be named.

What is the government’s argument?

Union home minister of state for home, Ajay Mishra Teni, while introducing the bill, said it will help in increasing the conviction rate.

The government has said the existing law - the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, which was enacted to authorise taking of measurements and photographs of convicts and other persons, has limited scope as it allowed recording of finger impressions and foot-print impressions of limited category of convicted and non-convicted persons and photographs on the order of a magistrate.

“The new measurement’ techniques being used in advanced countries are giving credible and reliable results and are recognised world over. The (current) act does not provide for taking these body measurements as many of the techniques and technologies had not been developed at that point of time. It is, therefore, essential to make provisions for modern techniques to capture and record appropriate body measurements in place of existing limited measurements,” the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill said.

It is considered necessary to expand the ‘‘ambit of persons’’ whose measurements can be taken as this will help the investigating agencies to gather sufficient legally admissible evidence and establish the crime of the accused person, it said.

Therefore, it said, there is a need for expanding the scope and ambit of the ‘‘measurements’’ which can be taken under the provisions of law as it will help in unique identification of a person involved in any crime and will assist the investigating agencies in solving the criminal case.

Why is opposition against the bill?

The opposition parties vehemently opposed the bill saying it is unconstitutional.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the bill seeks to empower the police and the court to take measurements of persons who are undertrial and who are suspected to be involved in a case, which is violative of Article 21 of the constitution.

TMC leader Sougata Roy requested the Lok Sabha speaker not to allow the introduction of an “incorrect” bill. The opposition demanded a division on the leave to introduce the bill, in which 120 members voted in favour and 58 against.

What do cops say?

Neeraj Kumar, retired Indian Police Service (IPS) and former Delhi Police Commissioner, said “This was much awaited. Not only it will help in tracing criminals, particularly habitual offenders, quickly on the basis of various parameters available in a central repository accessible to all police stations, but also provide a robust evidence management.”

Asked if such a law will infringe on rights of people only suspected to have committed a crime, Kumar said – “If you are innocent, there should not be any problem in giving your measurements”.

This Republic Day, unlock premium articles at 74% discount

Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access with HT Premium
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Get Latest India Newsalong with Latest Newsand Top Headlinesfrom India and around the world.
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
OPEN APP