National

Lok Sabha passes Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill

Union Home Minister Amit Shah speaks in the Lok Sabha during the second part of Budget Session of Parliament.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah speaks in the Lok Sabha during the second part of Budget Session of Parliament. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Lok Sabha on Monday passed the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022, by voice vote. It seeks to repeal The Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, and allow the collection, storage and analysis of physical and biological samples, including retina and iris scan of the convicted, arrested and detained persons.

Responding to the debate on the proposed law, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said its sole objective was to improve the conviction rate in the country, protect the human rights of crores of law-abiding citizens and send a strong message in the society. It had not been brought for any misuse, he said. Most of the Opposition members urged the government to send the Bill to the parliamentary standing or select committee for detailed discussion and improvement.

The Home Minister said that according to the 2020 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, the overall conviction rate in murder cases was just 44%; 39% in rape cases; 24% in cases of attempted murder; 38% in robbery; and 29% in dacoity cases. Whereas, in the United Kingdom the average conviction rate was 83.6%, it was 68% in Canada, 82% in South Africa, 97% in Australia (2020-21) and about 93% in the United States. All these countries were champions of human rights and had more stringent laws in place, he said.

Mr. Shah said the Bill sought to equip the police with the necessary resources for securing convictions in the court. He said that through the proposed law he was implementing the “T” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for “SMART [Strict and Sensitive, Modern and Mobile, Alert and Accountable, Reliable and Responsive, Techno savvy and Trained]” policing in 2014.

Human rights

Replying to the Opposition members who raised the issue of human rights, the Home Minister said they should also be worried about the human rights of the law-abiding victims of crime. He said the Central government was also working on the prison reforms.

During the debate on the Bill, the Opposition members expressed concern over the issue of data protection, possible misuse of the proposed law, violation of the citizen’s right to privacy and other fundamental rights. Mr. Shah assured them of a technology-driven foolproof mechanism to prevent any data leak or misuse. He said the data access would be query based.

Terming some of the concerns valid, Mr. Shah said they would be addressed while formulating the rules. If required, he would bring in amendments. Replying to the queries about those detained under any preventive law, he said such persons could not be forced to give the samples. However, they could on their own offer the samples. He said that no narco-analysis or brain-mapping test would be conducted without the person’s consent.

Under the proposed law, biological samples can be forcibly collected from the convicted or persons arrested for crimes against women or children, or in case the crime attracts a minimum of seven years’ jail. They can also be taken on the order of a magistrate to aid investigation.

Holistic approach

Stating that the Bill should not be seen in isolation but as part of a holistic approach, Mr. Shah said the Central government had set up several forensic science universities to strengthen the criminal justice system, as next-gen crimes could not be investigated using old techniques. A Modus Operandi Bureau in the Ministry of Home Affairs had been set up to study crime trends and advise the State police. Consultations were also under way to amend the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. About 99% of the police stations in the country had been linked to the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems.

Earlier, Congress member Manish Tewari said the Bill was violating Articles 14, 19 and 20 (3) and 21 of the Constitution. Its implications on civil liberties and human rights were enormous and would have far-reaching consequences, he said. Bhartruhari Mahtab of the BJD also raised concerns about possible misuse and NCP member Supriya Sule said the Bill violated Article 21.


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Printable version | Apr 4, 2022 11:07:32 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/lok-sabha-passes-criminal-procedure-identification-bill/article65290672.ece