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Parliament of India passes Criminal Procedure Identification Bill 2022

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The Parliament of India has passed the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill 2022 with the Rajya Sabha approving it on Wednesday. As many as 59 members voted in favor of the amendments. The Lok Sabha had already passed the bill. The Bill seeks to authorize collecting data measurements of convicts and other criminals for the purposes of identification and investigation in criminal matters and to preserve records.

Parliament of India passes Criminal Procedure Identification Bill 2022The Bill provides for legal sanction for taking appropriate body measurements of persons who are required to give such measurements which include finger-impressions, palm-print and foot-print impressions, photographs, iris and retina scans, physical, biological samples and their analysis among others. Such procedures are already in place in all developed countries in the world including USA, Canada and Europe among others

In response to a debate on the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill 2022 in the Rajya Sabha, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that the only purpose of this bill is to increase conviction rates and limit crime. Shah assured the House that the present bill is not a violation of the right to privacy or a violation of human rights. The Act and the rules framed under it will strengthen the justice system, thus strengthening the law. National Crime Records Bureau will maintain the measurements in a secure location.

In addition, Mr Shah stated that the bill is necessary since the conviction rates for crimes such as murder, sexual assault, child abuse, theft, and dacoity are extremely low. This legislation will enhance those rates by providing scientific evidence to law enforcement agencies. Maharash Jethmalani, a nominated member, supported the bill and said that the previous Congress governments had relied solely on the Identification of Prisoners Act, 2020. This was obsolete because technology had moved far beyond its original use.

The legislation also empowers the National Crime Records Bureau of India to collect, store and preserve the record of measurements and for sharing, dissemination, destruction and disposal of records. The Bill provides for empowering police or prison officers to take measurements of any person who resists or refuses to give measurements. The new legislation also replaces the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920

A few members of marginal opposition parties such as AITC, DMK, YSRCP and Samajwadi Party opposed the bill. They urged the government to refer the bill to the Select Committee. Political analysts across India however, applauded the move and derided these parties for indulging in petty politics. One distinguished political commentator, Sudanshu Ray noted that for nearly seven decades of Congress rule, crime rates had skyrocketed. He also noted how the Congress regime was impotent while some Congress candidates contesting elections actually had criminal records.

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