Centre to introduce DNA, face matching systems at police stations across the country
The Criminal Procedure Identification Act was passed by Parliament more than a year ago, and now the Center is preparing to install “DNA and face-matching” devices at 1,300 police stations nationwide.
What is the Criminal Procedure Identification Act?
- Law enforcement organizations are permitted to gather, retain, and examine physical and biological samples from prisoners and other individuals to identify and look into criminal cases under the terms of the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022. According to the Act, jail or police personnel are permitted to gather specific, identifiable data, including:
- Biological samples
- Palm-print impressions
- Foot-print impressions
- Iris and retina scan
- Behavioral attributes including signatures and handwriting
- The Act also permits these measurements to be processed, stored, preserved, distributed, and destroyed.
- The Act gives the police legal authority to collect biological and physical samples from both criminal suspects and prisoners. Section 53 or Section 53A of the 1973 Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) permits the police to gather this information.
Which was the law before the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, of 2022?
- The Identification of Prisoners Act, of 1920 (Act No. 33 of 1920) gives law enforcement officials the authority to get identifying information from detained and convicted individuals. Photographs, fingerprints, and footprints are examples of this.
- A magistrate may also mandate the taking of measurements or pictures to support an investigation.
- The statute went into effect on September 9, 1920. It outlines the legislative provisions on law enforcement and convicts.
- The Indian Penal Code, 1860 states in Section 186 that it is illegal to violate the act. It is legal to use all necessary methods to ensure the taking of a person’s measurements or photographs if they resist or refuse to have them taken.
What are the advantages of the passing of a new law?
- Modernization of Law Enforcement: The Act permits law enforcement organizations to update how they identify those who are engaged in illegal activity. It presents cutting-edge biometric technology, such as facial and DNA matching, that can improve the precision and effectiveness of criminal investigations.
- Improved Investigative Tools: Law enforcement now has strong tools for identifying suspects and solving crimes thanks to the use of DNA and face-matching techniques. These technologies can be especially helpful when more conventional approaches, like fingerprinting, aren’t enough.
- Enhanced Data Integration: A more extensive and centralized database of criminal and suspect information is made possible by the Act’s integration with the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS). Law enforcement can benefit from this integration by having a more comprehensive understanding of illegal activity and investigations can be expedited.
- Greater Range of Identification Techniques: The Act goes beyond the use of footprints, photos, and fingerprints as the only means of identifying people. It involves gathering and examining biological and physical samples, such as scans of the retina and iris. This increases the number of people who can be identified, including those who have been charged but not found guilty.
- National-Level Repository: By creating a central organization within the Home Ministry to serve as a national-level repository for the information gathered, data accessibility and uniformity are encouraged, which facilitates inter-agency and inter-state investigations.
What are the criticisms faced by the Centre in passing the law?
- Privacy Concerns: According to critics, the Act violates people’s right to privacy. The gathering of biometric data, such as facial recognition and DNA, prompts worries about possible abuse or illegal access to private data. Concerns have been raised over widespread government access to private biometric information.
- Data Security: There are worries regarding the security of gathered data as a result of the Act’s implementation. Sensitive biometric data management and storage can be difficult, and there’s a chance of data breaches and misuse.
- Constitutional Concerns: Several opponents have contested the Act’s constitutionality because it infringes upon fundamental rights, such as the right to privacy. There is debate over how the Act might affect people’s civil liberties.
- Misuse of Data: There have been concerns expressed over the possible exploitation of gathered data for discriminating or political ends. There is concern that the information may be used by the government to monitor, follow, or target particular people or groups.
With the Act, India’s criminal justice and law enforcement systems have undergone a substantial modernization process that will increase the amount of biometric data that can be gathered and utilized by law enforcement to support investigations. The Act was approved by Parliament, but several real-world obstacles, such as connection and logistical problems, have prevented the Act from going into full effect right now.