The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022

The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 has been put into effect in India as of August 4, 2022. This legislation allows police and prison authorities to collect, store, and analyze physical and biological samples, including retina and iris scans, of convicted, arrested, and detained individuals. The National Crime Records Bureau, under the Union Home Ministry, is permitted to preserve records for at least 75 years. The purpose of collecting these identification details is to establish the identity of suspects, identify any repeat offenses by the same individual, and establish previous convictions.

Previously, the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 governed the collection of identification details in criminal trials. However, this Act was amended several times over the years due to advances in forensic technology and the increasing importance of measurements such as palm impressions, signature or writing samples, and voice specimens in criminal investigations. The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 replaces the Identification of Prisoners Act and expands the scope of measurements that can be collected by law enforcement agencies.

One major difference between the two legislations is the inclusion of biometric data, such as retina and iris scans, in the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act. Another difference is the length of time that records can be preserved, as the new Act allows for records to be kept for at least 75 years, compared to the undefined time period in the previous Act.

While the collection of identification details can aid in the prosecution and prevention of crimes, there are also concerns about privacy and the potential misuse of this information. The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act includes provisions to protect the privacy of individuals and prevent the misuse of collected data. These include the requirement for informed consent to be obtained before collecting any measurements and the prohibition of the sale or distribution of collected data to any unauthorized person or organization.

Overall, the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 represents an update to the previous Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, taking into account advancements in forensic technology and addressing concerns about privacy. Its implementation allows for more accurate and reliable identification and investigation of criminal matters, while also safeguarding the rights of individuals.

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