What Is The Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill And Why The Opposition Is Protesting Against It

by Swarajya Staff - Mar 30, 2022 07:07 PM +05:30 IST
What Is The Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill And Why The Opposition Is Protesting Against ItMoS Home Ajay Mishra
Snapshot
  • Opposition members argued that the Bill was beyond the legislative competence of the Parliament as it violated fundamental rights of citizens including the Right to Privacy.

The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 was tabled in the Lok Sabha Monday by the Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra.

The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 is aimed at authorising the police for taking measurements of convicts and other persons for the purposes of identification and investigation in criminal matters and to preserve records.

What Does The Bill Say?

The new Bill will repeal the existing 'The Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920'.

The Bill allows police to collect "finger-impressions, palm-print impressions, footprint 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 empowers a Magistrate to direct any person to give measurements and also empowers the police or prison officer to take measurements of any person who resists or refuses to give measurements. Police personnel up to the rank of Head Constable have been authorised to record the measurements. It also enables the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) to share the records with any other law enforcement agency.

The present law only allows for the taking of finger and footprint impressions and for a limited category of convicted and non-convicted person's photographs on the order of a Magistrate.

As per the provisions of the Bill, any person convicted, arrested or detained under any preventive detention law will be required to provide "measurements" to a police officer or a prison official.

Why Has The Oppositon Called the Bill "Violative and Unconstitutional"?

Opposition members argued that the Bill was beyond the legislative competence of the Parliament as it violated fundamental rights of citizens including the Right to Privacy. Bahujan Samaj Party member Ritesh Pandey pointed out that the Bill proposes to collect samples even from protestors engaged in political protests.

Congress member Manish Tewari argued that the Bill, which implied use of force in collection of biological information, could also lead to narco analysis and brain mapping, and claimed that it violates Article 20 (3) of the Constitution as well as the Supreme Court judgement in the K.S. Puttaswamy Case.

Revolutionary Socialist Party member N.K. Premachandran, Trinamool member Saugata Roy also opposed the introduction of the Bill.

Why Is The New Law Needed?

Dismissing the apprehensions, MoS Home, Ajay Mishra, said that the Bill was required to make provisions for the use of modern techniques to capture and record appropriate body measurements. He pointed out that the existing law — the Identification of Prisoners Act — dated back to 1920 and allowed taking only finger print and foot print impressions of a limited category of convicted persons.

The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill said that the new ‘‘measurement’’ techniques being used in advanced countries are giving credible and reliable results and are recognised world over. “The Act (Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920) 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,” it said.

The Bill seeks 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.

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