The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill 2022 erodes the privacy of those convicted of crime and the ordinary citizen

Contact Counsellor

The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill 2022 erodes the privacy of those convicted of crime and the ordinary citizen

  • The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 was introduced in Lok Sabha in March.
  • The Bill replaces the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920. The Act authorises the collection of certain identifiable information about specified persons such as convicts for the investigation of crime.
  • The Bill expands the ambit of such details, and persons whose details can be taken.
  • It authorises the National Crime Records Bureau to collect, store, and preserve these details.

Why the need of such a law?

The world has undergone technological and scientific changes, crime and its trend have increased. Advanced countries across the globe are relying on new “measurement” techniques for reliable results.

  • It was felt necessary to expand the “ambit of persons” whose measurements can be taken as this will help to investigate agencies gather sufficient legally admissible evidence and establish the crime of the accused person.
  • The Bill will not only help investigation agencies but also increase prosecution.

Key features of the Bill

  • Define “measurements”: To include finger impressions, palm-print and foot-print impressions, photographs, iris and retina scan, physical, biological samples and their analysis, etc.;
  • Empower the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB): To collect, store and preserve the record of measurements and for sharing, dissemination, destruction and disposal of records;
  • Empower a Magistrate: To direct any person to give measurements; a Magistrate can also direct law enforcement officials to collect fingerprints, footprint impressions and photographs in the case of a specified category of convicted and non-convicted persons;
  • Empower police or prison officers: To take measurements of any person who resists or refuses to give measurements
  • Authorises police to record signatures, handwriting or other behavioural attributes: Referred to in section 53 or section 53A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, for the purposes of analysis.

Areas of concern

  • Un-constitutionality: The proposed law will be debated against Article 20(3) of the Constitution, which is a fundamental right that guarantees the right against self-incrimination.
  • Violation of Article 21: The Bill also seeks to apply these provisions to persons held under any preventive detention law.
  • The legislative competence of the Centre: The Bill was beyond the legislative competence of Parliament as it violated the fundamental rights of citizens, including the right to privacy.
  • Contentious provisions: The Bill proposes to collect samples even from protesters engaged in political protests.
  • Lack of clarity: Several provisions are not defined in the Bill itself. For instance, the statement of objects says it provides for the collection of measurements for “convicts and other persons” but the expression “other persons” is not defined.
  • While the jurisprudence around the right to be forgotten is still in an early stage in India, the Puttaswamy judgment discusses it as a facet of the fundamental right to privacy.
  • Definition of measurements: It is not restricted to taking measurements, but also their “analysis”. The definition now states - iris and retina scan, physical, biological samples and their analysis, behavioural attributes including signatures etC. It is nebulous and vague.
  • Storage of data: The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has to maintain a digital record for a period of 75 years from the date of collection. It is important to consider that the NCRB already operates a centralised database, namely the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS), without any clear legislative framework.
    • In a nutshell, once a person enters their “measurements” within the system, they stay there for life given the average life expectancy in India which hovers around 70 years is less than the retention period. The end result is a sprawling database in which innocent persons are treated as persons of interest for most of their natural lives.

Way Forward

  • Government must “very seriously” consider whether it is in the “legislative competence of the Treasury” to sponsor legislation that affects fundamental rights and whether the House should take up “such illegal legislation”.


Injuries to privacy are not mere academic debates and cause real, physical and mental consequences for people. To protect individual autonomy and fulfil our constitutional promises, the Supreme Court of India pronounced the Justice K.S. Puttaswamy's judgment reaffirmed its status as a fundamental right. The responsibility to protect it falls to each organ of the government, including the legislature and the union executive.

Exam Track

Prelims Takeaway

  • Article 21
  • Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022
  • National Crime Records Bureau
  • Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS)

Mains track

Q. The Supreme Court has recognised the right to privacy as a fundamental right. In the light of the Criminal Procedure (Identification), Bill 2022, discuss how the recent Bill erodes the Right to privacy.