The Lok Sabha, the lower house of India’s bicameral Parliament, has recently passed the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill 2022 which enables law enforcement to collect biometric data and “physical and biological samples” of individuals upon arrest or detention for the purposes of identification and probe, The Print reports.
Biometric data falling under this category include finger, palm, and footprints, as well as scans of the iris and retina. In addition, the Bill will also enable police forces to collect individuals’ behavioral attributes, including signatures and handwriting.
Anyone convicted, arrested, or held under any preventive detention law will now have to provide the aforementioned “measurements” to a police officer or a prison official.
According to the new legislation, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will also be allowed to collect, store and preserve the record of measurements for 75 years from the date of collection, as well as share or destroy them.
120 MPs voted in favor of the new legislation and 58 against the Criminal Procedure Bill 2022. It replaces the Identification of Prisoners Act of 1920, which only enabled the collection of finger and footprints of a limited category of convicts and persons under trial, and only after obtaining an order from a magistrate.
Introduced by Minister of State for Home, Ajay Mishra Teni, the new Bill has been reportedly called by the opposition “unconstitutional” as it allegedly infringed upon individuals’ right to deny the collection of biometric and biological data.
“The words ‘biological samples and their analysis’ in clause 2 (i) (b) of the Bill could extend to narco analysis and brain mapping and when it is made coercive…it is clearly violative of Article 20 (3) of the Constitution of India,” explained Congress MP Manish Tewari, according to Firstpost.
During the parliamentary session in which the Bill was passed, TMC MP Sougata Ray echoed Tewari’s privacy concerns.
“This law, which allows for narco analysis, which allows for taking biological specimens and taking scans of iris, violates basic human rights and is against the principles of the Constitution.”
Biometrics collection would have to be carried out by a senior police officer, and all data would be deleted if the subject does not have a prior record and is released without charge or exonerated, Firstpost’s analysis says.
The Bill represents the latest push by the Indian government to acquire citizens’ biometric data, in an alleged attempt to reduce criminality across the country.