Biometric measurements, DNA, blood and hair samples, Face recognition... a wide gamut of today's recognition technology may soon be legal in India
April 11 2022: The central government has moved the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 through both houses of Parliament. It was passed by he Rajya Sabha on April 6, just two days after it was passed in the Lok Sabha.
Replacing a similar colonial era law, the Bill enables the police to collect fingerprints, photographs, iris scans and a range of biological and identity samples from individuals. It authorises the National Crime Records Bureau to create a central repository of this evidence and share it with law enforcement agencies. On the face of it, the 2022 Bill appears to be a broader, more modern version of its colonial predecessor. But is such a law too intrusive? And is such intrusion consistent with the Constitution? Aditya Prasanna Bhattacharya writes in Times of India, March 30 3022: Why the Criminal Identification Bill overreaches: It clubs serious offences with trivial ones and lacks enough safeguards on access to sensitive data.
Other opinions in Indian English language media:
Editorial in Deccan Herald March31 2022: Draconian bill, scant regard for norms. Citizens will be especially vulnerable in the absence of a personal data protection law, which has been pending since 2019. The draconian provisions of the bill will be considered as part of other measures enacted and implemented by the government for the control and surveillance of the people. Its legality and constitutionality will certainly be questioned in the Supreme Court.
Editorial in The Hindu March 31 2022: The Union government's latest proposalto enable the collection of biometric and biological data from prisoners, besides the usual physical measurements, photographs and finger-prints, raises serious questions about its legal validity… It would be in the fitness of things if it is referred to a Standing Committee for deeper scrutiny before it is enacted into law.
Editorial in The Telegraph March31 2022: The wide ambit of this bill, the ambiguities about its scope, and the concentration of powers in the hands of the State have raised, quite correctly, concerns about the potential of this framework being misused, especially by a vindictive political dispensation. For instance, the term, ‘physical and biological samples’, has been left undefined and can involve bodily invasions such as the drawing of blood and hair as well as the collection of other kinds of DNA samples.
Gautam Bhatia in Hindustan Times April 3 2022: Rethink the criminal identification bill It places the privacy of individuals at the mercy of the State; allows for the retention of personal data of convicted individuals for lifetime; and goes against the best practices of data protection
Indian Express, April 8 2022: Guilty until proved innocent. Parliament has just passed a dangerous bill Nikita Sonavane, Praavita Kashyap and Mrinalini Ravindranath write: The right against self-incrimination is at the heart of protection from police excess. Evidence mandated by the Criminal Procedures (Identification) Bill violates it. This piece of legislation violates the right against self-incrimination and turns the presumption of innocence in an investigation on its head. It will fundamentally alter the scope of criminal investigation by giving unchecked powers to investigating agencies as well as the central government.
... and a contrary view from law enforcement:
Meeran Chadha Borwankar, former Pune Commissioner of Police in Hindustan Times April 1 2022 ..To call the bill “draconian” is absurd. It minimises the threat from organised crime, cybercriminals and terrorists who are proficient in identity thefts and identity frauds. On the contrary, the bill will help to check serious national and global threats posed by them.