The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022, was introduced by the government on March 28. It was passed by the Lok Sabha on April 4 and by the Rajya Sabha on April 6. The bill was introduced with the intention to replace the Identification of Prisoner Act, 1920. It seeks to expand the ambit of the investigating authority to collect biometric details of ‘any persons’ which is defined under section 3 of this Act and includes people who are arrested for an offense under any law, people who have been ordered to give security for their good behavior as per section 117 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for a proceeding under section 107 or section 108 or section 109 or section 110 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 or are convicted of an offense punishable under any law. This legislation will allow the police to collect a host of biometric data from persons specified under this act, including finger-impressions, footprint impressions, palm-print impressions, photographs, iris and retinal scans, and other physical and biological samples. It also includes a collection of behavioural attributes of persons specified under this act, such as handwriting samples and signatures. The new Act intends to make use of modern technology to collect details for the purpose of identification and investigation in criminal matters.
Key features of the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022:
Authorisation and preservation of records:
It authorizes the investigating authority to take measures for the purpose of identification and investigation in criminal matters and to preserve these collected records for matters that may be connected to other crimes.
The new law has widened the scope with regard to identification data. It authorizes the collection of photographs, finger and palm prints, footprints, iris and retina scans. It also covers physical and biological samples such as blood, semen, hair and saliva, behavioural aspects like handwriting and signature and any other examination referred to under section 53 or 53A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. These samples are to be kept till 75 years from the date of collection. It is further provided that if a person who has not been previously convicted of any offense, had his measurements taken, and is released without trial or is discharged or acquitted by the court after exhausting all remedies, such collected information should be destroyed from the records.
The expansion of the ambit of the law’s operation now covers people who have been convicted for any offense under any law or ordered to give security for their good behavior or maintaining peace or arrested in connection with an offense punishable under law or detained under any preventative detention law. The law also advises deleting collected data if the person has not been convicted and released without a trial, discharged, or acquitted by the court after exhausting all legal remedies. If someone refuses to submit the data as demanded by the authorities, it is termed an offense under section 186 of the Indian Penal Code, 1980.
Who can take measurements:
- a police officer or a prison officer in such manner as may be prescribed by the Central Government or the State Government
- “Police officer” means the officer-in-charge of a police station or an officer not below the rank of Head Constable
- “prison officer” means an officer of prison not below the rank of Head Warder.
- as per section 5 of this Act a magistrate may direct a person to give details for the purpose of an investigation or proceeding under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
Role of the National Crime Record Bureau
As per section 4, the Act empowers the National Crime Record Bureau to-
- Collect the details about the persons covered under the act from the state government, union territory, administrations, or other law enforcement agencies.
- Storing and destroying the details about specified persons at the national level
- process such records with relevant crime and criminal records
- Disseminating the details to law enforcement agencies.
Since we live in a world with ever-changing technology, the new act is trying to adapt these technological changes to make the identification process and investigation in criminal cases as efficient as possible.