Rules for identifying criminals

  • IASbaba
  • September 23, 2022
  • 0
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Context: Recently, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notified the rules governing The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022. The legislation would enable police and central investigating agencies to collect, store and analyse physical and biological samples including retina and iris scans of arrested persons.

About Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022:

  • The Act seeks to repeal the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, which is over 100-years-old.
    • The old Act’s scope was limited to capturing of finger impression, foot-print impressions and photographs of convicted prisoners and certain category of arrested and non-convicted persons on the orders of a Magistrate.
  • The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill when it was introduced in Parliament said that new ‘‘measurement’’ techniques being used in advanced countries are giving credible and reliable results and are recognised 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.
    • The Act empowers a Magistrate to direct any person to give measurements, which till now was reserved for convicts and those involved in heinous crimes.
    • It also enables the police up to the rank of a Head Constable to take measurements of any person who resists or refuses to give measurements.

As per the rules, “measurements” include:

  • finger-impressions
  • palm-print
  • footprint
  • 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 53A of CrPC, 1973.

Concerns about the misuse of the Act:

  • When the Bill was debated in Parliament in March this year, the Opposition members termed it “unconstitutional” and an attack on privacy as it allowed the record of samples of even political detainees.
  • However, the rules notified in September state that samples of those detained under preventive Sections such as 107, 108, 109, 110, 144, 145 and 151 of the CrPC shall not be taken unless such person is charged or arrested in connection with any other offence punishable under any other law.
  • It can also be taken if a person has been ordered to give security for his good behaviour for maintaining peace under Section 117 of the said Code for a proceeding under the said Sections.
  • The rules do not mention the procedure to be adopted for convicted persons.

Repository of the measurement data:

  • The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) under MHA will be the one-stop agency for storing and preserving the data of arrested persons.
  • The State governments can also store the data, but it shall provide compatible application programming interfaces for sharing the measurements or record of measurements with the NCRB.
  • The rules state that the NCRB will issue Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for collection of measurements which would include specifications of the equipment or devices to be used, specifications and the digital and physical format of the measurements etc.
  • The rules said that in case any measurement is collected in physical form or in a non-standard digital format, it shall be converted into standard digital format and thereafter uploaded in the database as per the SOP.
  • Only authorised users could upload the measurements in the central database in an encrypted format.

Provisions for destruction of records in case a suspect is acquitted:

  • It is yet to be specified by the NCRB. The rules state that any request for destruction of records shall be made to the Nodal Officer who is to be nominated by the respective State Government.
  • The nodal officer will recommend the destruction after verifying that such record of measurements is not linked with any other criminal cases.

Facial recognition technology (FRT):

  • It is a biometric technology that uses distinctive features of the face to identify and distinguish an individual.
  • In the Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS), the large database (containing photos and videos of peoples’ faces) is used to match and identify the person.
  • Image of an unidentified person, taken from CCTV footage, is compared to the existing database using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, for pattern-finding and matching.
  • Though the Criminal Procedure Identification Rules (CPIR), 2022 does not explicitly mention FRT or AFRS, some concerns have been raised over its potential use by police and other investigative agencies. Already Delhi Police is using FRT.


Use of technology for better identification of criminals and record keeping must be balanced with the citizens’ right to privacy, which is now recognised as a fundamental right under Indian constitution.

Source:  The Hindu                  

Previous Year Questions

Q.1) With reference to India, consider the following statements:    (2020)

  1. Government law officers and legal firms are recognized as advocates, but corporate lawyers and patent attorneys are excluded from recognition as advocates.
  2. Bar Councils have the power to lay down the rules relating to legal education and recognition of law colleges.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.2) With reference to India, consider the following statements:   (2021)

  1. Judicial custody means an accused is in the custody of the concerned magistrate and such accused is locked up in police station, not in jail.
  2. During judicial custody, the police officer in charge of the case is not allowed to interrogate the suspect without the approval of the court.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2


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