image courtesy Times of India
Biometrics based data collection by law enforcement comes into effect

August 6 2022: The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act came into force yesterday. It received presidential assent on April 18.

It sets out the terms under which the police can collect information on an individual’s identifiers. In keeping with technological advancements, it allows collection of biometric identifiers such as retina scans and biological samples….The scope of this law impinges on at least two fundamental rights: privacy and protection against self-incrimination. Any such law needs to meet stringent standards such as a clear link between the legislation’s goal and the means adopted to realise it. There needs to be a safeguard against the possibility that it can be used to collect samples from almost anyone. (Source: The Times of India  Aug 4 2022 Editorial: "Add  to the Act")

CP(I) Act explained (Times of India):Why it’s easy for cops to take your biometrics now

Under the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022, that came into force on Thursday, police can take biometrics of people arrested for or convicted of any criminal offence. Here’s how the old and new prisoner data laws differ:

The original Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 allowed police to take bodily measurements of prisoners, including fingerprints and footprints, besides photographs. But the Criminal Procedure (Identifi cation) Act, 2022 that came into force on Thursday additionally allows the collection of iris and retina scans, physical and biological samples, signatures and handwriting samples.

The old law allowed police to collect physical identifiers of people who were convicted of or arrested for an offence punishable with at least one year’s rigorous imprisonment. The new law does away with the rigorous imprisonment condition. Identifiers of any person convicted of any offence can be collected. 

In the old law, the officer ordering collection of physical measurements had to be at least a sub-inspector. Now, a head constable can authorise their collection.

In the old law, states/UTs maintained and retained records of prisoner measurements. Now, National Crime Records Bureau shall collect records of measurements from all law enforcement agencies, and store them in a digital format for 75 years. 

In the old law, prisoner measurements and photographs had to be destroyed if the accused was released without trial or acquitted. Now, records will be destroyed only after the prisoner exhausts all “legal remedies”. So, no deletion if the prosecution appeals an acquittal.

Opinion/media: OpEd in The Hindu April 1 2022: This is a criminal attack on privacy:

The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill 2022 erodes the privacy of those convicted of crime and the ordinary citizen