The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022, which seeks to authorise the collection, storage and analysis of biometric samples of convicts and others involved in criminal matters.
The Lok Sabha passed the Bill on Monday.
Replying to the discussion on the Bill, Home Minister Amit Shah said the data collected would be protected and shared through a secure mechanism so that people’s privacy was not risked.
He added that our law is ‘bachha’ (mild) in terms of strictness as compared to other nations. “There are more stringent laws in countries like South Africa, U.K., Australia, Canada, U.S., which is why their conviction rate is better,” he said.
He explained that the Bill had the objectives of increasing the rate of conviction and forensic capacity and collecting scientific evidence, eliminating third-degree methods against those accused of crimes.
Stating that politics should be kept out while considering security concerns of the citizens of the country, Mr. Shah said, “Don’t we want to move on? Won’t we think of the country amidst the gulli-danda of politics? Politics should not be done on the question of public safety, punishment to the guilty.’’
‘We will ensure that the political agitators do not have to give their physical and biological samples. But if leaders are arrested in a criminal case, they will have to give their samples,’’ the Home Minister added.
Congress leader P. Chidambaram said that Bill was unconstitutional and it violated the liberty, privacy and dignity of the people. “The Bill wasn’t referred to a select committee,” he said adding that the government had not taken into account the historic verdicts of the Supreme Court in Selvi and Puttaswamy cases.
“In the Selvi case, the court said that polygraphy, narcoanalysis and brain electrical activation profile (BEAP) violate an individual’s rights,” Mr. Chidambaram said.
He also pointed to another section of the Bill, which says records collected could be shared with any law enforcement agency, and noted that there was no definition for a law enforcement agency.
Citing the European Court of Human Rights he said that the retention and storage of fingerprints, DNA profile and cellular samples without consent are violations of human rights. “There is no scientific basis to presume that any of the measurements including handwriting, fingerprints is unique to a person,” he said.
CPI MP Binoy Viswam said the Bill was draconian, and added that the Centre wanted to threaten everybody. “You want to take away all the human rights. You want to take the rights of the democratic movement of the country. This government has no regard for freedom,” he said.