MHA notifies rules empowering cops to obtain physical samples of convicts
New Delhi: The Union Home Ministry on Monday notified rules under the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act 2022 which empowers the police to obtain physical and biological samples of convicts and of those accused of crimes.
Apart from providing legal sanction to police to obtain physical and biological samples of convicts and detainees for investigation in criminal matters, the law also empowers a magistrate to order taking of measurements or photographs of a person to aid the probe of an offence.
According to the rules, an authorised person — which means a police officer or a prison officer of the central or state government — can take “measurements” like finger-impressions, palm-print impressions, foot-print impressions, 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.
The authorised user or any person skilled in taking measurements or a registered medical practitioner or any other person so authorised may take the measurements of a person arrested in a criminal case provided that it is taken with the prior written approval of a police officer not below the rank of Superintendent of Police.
This Act replaces the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920.
Under both the 1920 and the 2022 Act, resistance or refusal to give data will be considered an offence of obstructing a public servant from doing his duty.
The rules said the measurements of a person charged with violation of any prohibitory order issued under section 144 or section 145 or arrested under section 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) 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.
While participating in the debate on the legislation in Rajya Sabha, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said biometric data of political detainees would not be collected and the proposed law would exclude brain mapping and polygraph tests from its ambit.
“Under Section 3, the government of India has the right to make rules. We will define it and ensure that no person involved in a political agitation has to give (physical and biometric) measurements only for political agitation.
“But if a political leader is arrested in a criminal case, then he will have to be at par with a citizen,” Shah had said.
Several Opposition parties have slammed the legislation as “unconstitutional” and “draconian” and claimed it could be misused.
The National Crime Records Bureau, which functions under the home ministry, will issue the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) which may include specifications of the equipments or devices to be used for taking measurements, specifications and format, including digital or physical, of the measurements to be taken and method of handling and their storage in the database at the state level.
According to rules, the record of measurements shall be stored and preserved in a secure and encrypted format as specified in the SOPs.
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 SOPs, which may include process to be followed by an authorised user for uploading the measurements in the database using the registered device, standard digital format in which each type of measurements shall be converted before uploading into the database among others, it said.
The procedure for destruction and disposal of records shall be specified in the SOPs.
Any request for destruction of record of measurements shall be made to the nodal officer to be nominated by the respective state government or the central government.
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.