GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022, which was passed by Parliament in April this year, has come into force from 4 August 2022. The new law, which replaces a similar colonial era law, authorises police officers to take measurements of people convicted, arrested or facing trial in criminal cases, including their iris and retina scans and even biological samples with exceptions, and store these for up to 75 years.

What is the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022?

  1. The new law provides legal sanction to the police to take physical and biological samples of convicts as well as those accused of crimes.
  2. Basically, it will allow the 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.
  3. As per the provisions of the law, 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.
  4. It also authorises the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) to store, preserve, share with any law enforcement agency and destroy the record of measurements at national level. The records can be stored up to a period of 75 years.
  5. The law’s objective is to ensure the unique identification of those involved with crime and to help investigating agencies solve cases.

How different is it from the colonial-era law

  1. The new law will replace a colonial-era legislation, called The Identification of Prisoners Act which dates back to 1920.
  2. The new law is described as a modern, broader but an "intrusive" version of its predecessor.
  3. While the old law allowed authorities to take only fingerprint and footprint impressions of a limited category of convicted persons, the new law allows police to collect a range of biological and identity samples not only from convicts but also those arrested or even detained under any preventive detention law.
  4. By design, the old law was limited to serious offenders only but its new counterpart will include all categories of criminals and accused.