National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS)

  • IASbaba
  • August 23, 2022
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In News:  Union Home Minister inaugurated the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS).

  • According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, NAFIS, which was developed by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), would help in the quick and easy disposal of cases with the help of a centralised fingerprint database
  • In April this year, Madhya Pradesh became the first state in the country to identify a deceased person through NAFIS.

What is NAFIS?

Conceptualized and managed by the NCRB at the Central Fingerprint Bureau (CFPB),the NAFIS project is a country-wide searchable database of crime- and criminal-related fingerprints.

  • The web-based application functions as a central information repository by consolidating fingerprint data from all states and Union Territories.
  • According to a 2020 report by the NCRB, it enables law enforcement agencies to upload, trace, and retrieve data from the database in real time on a 24×7 basis.
  • NAFIS assigns a unique 10-digit National Fingerprint Number (NFN) to each person arrested for a crime.
  • This unique ID will be used for the person’s lifetime, and different crimes registered under different FIRs will be linked to the same NFN.
  • By automating the collection, storage, and matching of fingerprints, along with digitizing the records of fingerprint data, NAFIS will “provide the much-needed unique identifier for every arrested person in the CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems) database as both are connected at the backend.

Since when has India relied on fingerprinting as a crime-fighting tool?

  • A system of fingerprinting identification first emerged in colonial India, where it was tested before it spread to Europe and beyond.
  • At first, it was used by British colonial officials for administrative rather than criminal purposes.
  • William Herschel, the chief administrator of the Hooghly district of Bengal, from the late-middle 1800s onwards, used fingerprinting to reduce fraud and forgeries, in order to ensure that the correct person was receiving government pensions, signing land transfer deeds, and mortgage bonds.
  • The growing use of fingerprinting was deeply tied to how 19th century British officials understood crime in India.

How did the use of fingerprinting develop in crime fighting in India?

  • The uniqueness of every individual’s fingerprints was first proposed in Europe by the German anatomist Johann Mayer in 1788, and was confirmed through detailed studies by the Scottish doctor Henry Faulds around the same time that Herschel had begun to implement fingerprinting as a means of identification in Bengal.
  • Tracing a single set of fingerprints from a large collection of fingerprint cards required a workable system of classification.
  • While similar attempts were made in England and beyond, the Bengal Police were able to create fingerprint records which replaced the use of anthropometric measurements by 1897, when the world’s first Fingerprint Bureau was established in Calcutta, four years before a similar decision was taken in England.
  • The Inspector General of the Bengal Police, Edward Henry, recruited two Indian sub-inspectors, Aziz-ul-Haq and H C Bose, for this task.
  • It was Haq who first devised a system of primary classification and a system for indexing names in court conviction registers.
  • Henry, however, declined to acknowledge the crucial contributions of his Indian subordinates when he presented the so-called “Henry System of Classification” in England in 1901, and established a fingerprint bureau in Scotland Yard.
  • It was only in 1925 that Henry admitted the invaluable efforts of Haq and Bose to the system of classification, for which the colonial state bestowed on them the titles of Khan Bahadur and Rai Bahadur respectively.

Source: Indian Express


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