Recently, the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs introduced the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 in Lok Sabha with an objective to ensure more efficient and expeditious investigation of crime by the use of modern technology.
- It would allow the police and prison authorities to collect, store and analyse physical and biological samples, including retina and iris scans.
- These provisions will further be made applicable to the persons held under any preventive detention law.
- The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will be the repository of physical and biological samples, signature and handwriting data that can be preserved for at least 75 years.
- It also authorises for taking measurements of convicts and “other persons” for identification and investigation in criminal matters.
- Replacing the 1920 Identification of Prisoners Act, the proposed law considerably expands its scope and reach.
- The phrase ‘biological samples’ is not described further, hence, it could involve bodily invasions such as drawing of blood and hair, collection of DNA samples.
- Seemingly technical, the legislative proposal undermines the right to privacy of not only persons convicted of crime but also every ordinary Indian citizen. The Bill proposes to collect samples even from protestors engaged in political protests.
- Violation of Article 20: Apprehensions have been raised that the Bill enabled coercive drawing of samples and possibly involved a violation of Article 20(3), which protects the right against self-incrimination.
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