Lok Sabha fell into chaos on Monday afternoon when the Centre introduced the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 in the lower house of Parliament.
Initially listed in the name of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the Bill was finally introduced by Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra. If passed, it will replace the 1920’s Act 'The Identification of Prisoners Act'.
MPs from the Opposition, including the Congress and the Trinamool Congress opposed the legislation, calling it a "direct violation of the Fundamental Right of an individual".
But, what does the law propose? Why are members of the Opposition against it? We take a look at it and answer all your questions.
What the law says
The proposed law aims to authorise the police to take measurements of convicts and other persons for the purposes of their identifications and investigations in criminal matters to preserve records.
Explaining the need for a new law, MoS MHA Ajay Mishra said in Lok Sabha on Monday, "The current Identification of Prisoners Act was formed in 1920. It's been 102 years now. The Act provided for collection of only fingerprints and footprints. The world has undergone technological and scientific changes, crime and its trend has increased. That is why we have brought the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022. The Bill will not only help our investigation agencies but also increase prosecution."
The current Identification of Prisoners Act was formed in 1920. It's been 102 yrs now. The Act provided for collection of only fingerprints & footprints. The world has undergone technological & scientific changes, crime and its trend has increased: MoS MHA Ajay Mishra Teni (1/2) pic.twitter.com/RGrCItSfvk
— ANI (@ANI) March 28, 2022
Under the past law, the police was limited to only taking finger impressions and foot-print impressions of a limited category of convicted and non-convicted persons and photographs on the order of a magistrate. However, the new law will allow the police to take measurements of all convicts and other detained persons to preserve records for the purpose of their identification.
Moreover, the bill will allow the police to take iris and retina scan, photographs, finger-impressions, palm-print impressions, footprint impressions, physical, biological samples and their analysis.
It will also allow the police to collect their behavioural attributes including signatures and handwriting or any other examination referred under section 53 or section 53A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
As per the Bill, any person convicted, arrested or held under any preventive detention law will be required to provide “measurements” to a police officer or a prison official.
The law also states that officers in charge of police stations or those not below head constable rank to take the “measurements” — records of these measurements shall be retained for 75 years from the date of collection.
The new bill also empowers the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) to collect, store and preserve the record of measurements, for sharing, dissemination, destruction, and disposal of records.
The law also says that the records are to be destroyed in the case of any person who has not been previously convicted of an offence punishable under any law with imprisonment for any term, and had his/her measurements taken according to the provisions of this Act, is released without trial or discharged or acquitted by the court, after exhausting all legal remedies.
How the law will help: Government explains
Sources within the government have said that having such data at a central level in a digitised format would make identification of the accused easier for the authorities.
A senior NIA official speaking to News18 said, "This is a progressive step in today’s times. Investigation can’t be done based on the old form. New technology has to be roped in to enhance quality and speed of investigation in view of the latest challenges."
‘Violative and unconstitutional’
The introduction of the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 created massive ruckus in the Lok Sabha, with the Opposition saying it went against Constitutional provisions.
Congress MP Manish Tewari said the legislation is in “derogation” of Article 20(3) and Article 21 of the Constitution, and is beyond the legislative “competence” of the House. “The words ‘biological samples and their analysis’ in clause 2 (i) (b) of the Bill could extend to narco analysis and brain mapping and when it is made coercive…it is clearly violative of Article 20 (3) of the Constitution of India,” Tewari said.
Opposing the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill 2022, which is a derogation of Article 20 sub article 3 and Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, highlighted that the bill is beyond the legislative competence of the House & against the fundamental rights of our citizens. pic.twitter.com/jCc6DCAm2f
— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) March 28, 2022
Congress' Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury too opposed the law. As per reports, he was quoted as saying, "The present Bill seeks to empower the police and court to take measurements of persons who are under trial or who are suspected to be involved in a case or there is a presumption against some person that he may, in future, do any illegal act."
News agency PTI reported that RSP member N K Premachandran said the bill granted rights to the police to collect DNA samples of convicts of minor crimes and questioned the intention for empowering the police to such an extent.
BSP member Ritiesh Pandey also opposed the introduction of the bill.
TMC MP Sougata Ray also opposed the bill, saying: "This law, which allows for narco analysis, which allows for taking biological specimens and taking scans of iris, violates basic human rights and is against the principles of the Constitution.”
With inputs from agencies