- Criminal Procedure Identification Bill 2022, a brainchild of Amit Shah and his team has been passed in Lok Sabha
- The bill makes it mandatory for heinous criminals to hand over their immutable biological samples to law enforcement agencies
- The bill is a good step in the right direction, but it is also imperative to change the underlying structure of the Indian legal system
The Indian Criminal Justice system is often subjected to criticism because of its lack of upgradation with respect to the changing technological landscape. Criminal Procedure Identification Bill 2022 is all set to break that jinx as it will make it tougher for criminals to get respite.
Criminal Procedure Identification Bill 2022 passed in Lok Sabha
Lok Sabha, the house consisting of direct representatives of the public, has given assent to the bill brought in to reform the evidence collection mechanism in the country. The bill authorizes an officer of a rank not lower than Sub-Inspector to collect immutable biological samples of persons in police custody.
Amit Shah, Union Home Minister said that the bill is meant to increase the conviction rate in the country. He specifically asserted that the bill will protect the human rights of innocent and law-abiding Indians. Accusing the opposition of worrying only about the human rights of the criminals,
Amit Shah said, “Those who are citing human rights should also think about the human rights of rape victims. They (the opposition) only worry about rapists and looters. What about the human rights of the person who has been looted? This bill is brought in to ensure the safety of law-abiding citizens of the country,”
Easier to collect biological samples
The bill is an upgrade above the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920. The bill permits Police to collect palm-print impressions, footprint impressions, photos, iris and retina scans, signature, handwriting, blood, semen, hair samples, swabs, and their analysis of a convicted or arrested person. These samples generally do not change over a significant period of time and it will make it easier for Police to investigate cases having similar patterns.
If the Sub-Inspector (in case the person is arrested) and Prison officer who is not below the rank of Head warden (in case the person is convicted) want to collect these samples, they will have to first ensure that the individual is arrested or convicted in a case which prescribes minimum 1 year of imprisonment. Additionally, any person who is availing security by the government can also be ordered to hand over these samples.
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Bill is balanced
The records will be saved with the agencies for at least 75 years in digital or electronic form. In case a person’s record is collected based on a mere arrest, then he/she can ask authorities to destroy his records from their database. However, it will be deleted only in the case when the person is released from jail without trial. In case of acquittal, the person is required to prove that he has been acquitted by the highest judicial authority in the country.
Critics including the opposition raised the suspicion that the Bill will give unilateral power to the police which could lead to their autocracy. However, Home Minister Amit Shah has clarified that it won’t be mandatory for a person to handle his/her samples. If a person is arrested or convicted for a crime whose punishment is less than 7 years, then he/she can deny giving his samples to Police officers. However, in case the person is alleged or convicted for crime against women and children then he/she will have to mandatory hand over their sample.
More power to the NCRB
The bill empowers National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) to collect samples, NCRB can order state governments, union territory administrations, and other law enforcement agencies like CBI, ED to handle these samples. NCRB will have all powers to crunch these databases for ensuring a smooth justice delivery system.
The Indian Judiciary is praised all over the world for its integrity. However, the rule books for justice delivery are designed in such a way that it provides more leeway to criminals than justice to the average person. Along with the changes in laws, the government also needs to change the value system on which our legal system has been working for the last one and a half-century.