Criminal Procedure (Identity) Act, 2022 It has come into effect from Thursday. The opposition alleges that it violates the fundamental rights of Indian citizens to freedom and privacy, while the government argues that it will strengthen the process of identifying criminals. This act in April this year passed in parliament which authorizes police officers to take vital samples of persons convicted, arrested or facing trial in criminal cases. in their iris And retina scan are also included.
According to the report, a notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs issued on Wednesday said, “In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 1 of the Criminal Procedure (Identity) Act, 2022, the Central Government on August 4, 2022 as the date on which the said Act shall come into force.”
Not only SHO, head constable will also be able to take records
The Act, replacing the Prisoners Identification Act 1920, also allows the collection of identifiable information such as fingerprints, footprints from convicts. The government says that the main objective of implementing this act is to increase the rate of conviction.
- Under the Act, any person of the rank of head constable or above, other than the in-charge of the police station and the head warden of the jail, can collect personal data of convicts and undertrials.
- Under this Act, the Judicial Magistrate of the first class level can give orders for the collection of data of convicts and accused.
- The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will maintain the record of the data collected. He will share the data with various legal agencies when the time comes.
This act has increased the scope of different types of data that can be collected. Along with this, the scope of such persons has also been increased from whom such data can be collected. It even allows personal data to be collected from anyone. It also includes those who are guilty of minor offenses such as rash driving, pocket-picking etc.
Although the Act states that the data of a person acquitted of an offense must be permanently destroyed, it also has a provision that the court or magistrate may order the retention of such data.
Major issues related to the Act
- Arrested persons, who have committed an offense against women or children or who are punishable with imprisonment of seven years or more, shall be legally required to give their biological samples. In addition to biological samples, “measurements” and personal data may be demanded from all arrested persons.
- Extending the power of the central government to make laws and/or make rules under the Act could lead to conflict with state authorities who are equally empowered.
- There is no provision in the Act to appeal to a higher authority against any arbitrary exercise of power by an officer authorized to collect personal data of any person. Therefore, such an appeal can be made only in the High Court or the Supreme Court.
- The Act does not mandate the NCRB to maintain a record of “measurements” in the wake of security threats such as data breaches and cyber attacks.
Relief will be available in the event of political opposition
Opponents of this act argue that it could endanger the basic rights of not only the guilty but also many innocent persons. They fear it could be used to target and suppress people’s freedom of expression.
Responding to the opposition’s concerns, Home Minister Amit Shah had assured in Parliament that measures would be taken to prevent any misuse of identification databases and biological samples in the rules for the implementation of the proposed law.
Shah also made it clear that those detained on the apprehension of breach of peace and in connection with political protests would be kept out of the purview of the Act.
Petition against the Act in Delhi High Court
Soon after the passing of the Criminal Procedure (Identity) Act, 2022, a petition was filed in the Delhi High Court seeking sections 2(1)(a) (iii), 2(1)(b), 3 of the Act. Judicial review of , 4, 5, 6 and 8 was demanded.
The petitioners said that its provisions violate the fundamental rights of the citizens of India as well as the basic concept of the Constitution of India. That is why the court should quash it.
After this, the court said that the matter needs to be considered and issued notice to the Centre. The next hearing of the case is to be held on November 15, 2022.
There was strong protest in Parliament
When the government introduced this bill on 18 April, it faced strong opposition in the Lok Sabha. During the debate, opposition members expressed concern over data protection, possible misuse of the proposed law, violation of citizen’s right to privacy and other fundamental rights.
YSRCP, the party of YS Jaganmohan Reddy, was the only opposition party that supported the bill. Home Minister Amit Shah defended this bill and said that through this the police and investigators will be two steps ahead of the criminals.
He argued that opposition members raising the issue of human rights should also be concerned about the human rights of the victims. “This bill will act as a protector of the human rights of crores of law-abiding citizens,” he said.
Fear of political misuse of the law
The opposition’s concern over the possible misuse of the Criminal Procedure (Identity) Act, 2022 stems from the way biometric data has been used by various legal agencies in the past. Especially against the people who peacefully protested against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh in 2019-20.
The Act expands the scope of existing laws like UAPA, giving the police complete freedom to collect personal data from any person. The controversy over the lack of security measures in the Aadhaar and Aarogya Setu apps as well as several failures has exposed the possibilities of misuse of data collection by the Modi government.
Although the Supreme Court ruling in the Puttaswamy case in 2017 declared privacy a fundamental constitutional right, the process of drafting and introducing a national data protection law has been going on for years.
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