MHA notifies rules to record and store iris, retina, physical and biological samples of suspects

NCRB under MHA will be the repository of the data

September 20, 2022 02:26 am | Updated 12:34 pm IST - New Delhi

The Union Home Ministry on September 19, 2022 notified rules under the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act 2022.

The Union Home Ministry on September 19, 2022 notified rules under the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act 2022. | Photo Credit: The Hindu Picture Library

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has notified the rules governing The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 that would enable police and central investigating agencies to collect, store and analyse physical and biological samples including retina and iris scans of arrested persons. The rules do not mention the procedure to be adopted for convicted persons. The measurements of persons detained under various preventive detention laws shall not be taken unless clubbed with a serious offence or ordered by a court. 

“Measurements” includes finger-impressions, palm-print, foot-print, photographs, iris and retina scan, physical, biological samples and their analysis, behavioural attributes including signatures, handwriting or any other examination referred to in section 53 or section 53A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974), the rules said.

When the Bill was introduced in Parliament in March of this year, the Opposition members termed it “unconstitutional” and an attack on privacy as it allowed to record samples of even political detainees.

However, the rules notified on September 19 state that samples of those detained under preventive sections such as 107, 108, 109, 110, 144, 145 and 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) code shall not be taken unless such person is charged or arrested in connection with any other offence punishable under any other law for the time being in force or the person has been ordered to give security for his good behaviour or maintaining peace under section 117 of the said Code for a proceeding under the said sections.

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) under the MHA will direct States on how to collect and store the information. This includes- specifications of the equipment or devices to be used for taking measurements, specifications and the digital and physical format of the measurements, method of handling and storage of measurements in the State government in a format compatible with the database of the NCRB and also the information technology system to be used for taking of measurements. 

“If any person who is required to allow the measurements to be taken under the Act resists or refuses to allow the taking of such measurements, the authorised user shall take the measurements in accordance with the provisions of sections 53 and 53A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974),” the rules said. The rules said that the record of measurements shall be stored and preserved in a secure and encrypted format as specified in the Standard Operating Procedures by the NCRB from “time to time.” 

“Any act of unauthorised access, distribution or sharing of data collected under the Act shall be punishable as per the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the Information Technology Act, 2000,” the rules said.  The Act repeals The Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, even though the rules do not mention convicted persons. The over 100-year-old Act’s scope was limited to capturing finger impressions, footprint impressions and photographs of convicted prisoners and certain categories of arrested and non-convicted persons on the order of a Magistrate.

The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill said that new ‘‘measurement’’ techniques being used in advanced countries are giving credible and reliable results and are recognised the world over. It said that the 1920 Act does not provide for taking these body measurements as many of the techniques and technologies had not been developed then.

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