The Identification of Prisoners Act of 1920 (IPA), which had been repealed in
favor of the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act (CPIA), included new
revisions and methods for dealing with changing circumstances. The consideration
will manifest or be recognized in the various circumstances brought about by
technological advancements in criminal behavior patterns. The document provides
an excellent analysis of the individuals or officials who would be in charge of
the efficient gathering of information and proof related to the crimes
committed, as well as describing what types of information and other
qualifications deal with the Criminal Identification Act.
Moreover, this paper draws a line of distinction between both the acts, i.e.,
the CPIA of 2022 and the IPA of 1920, with regard to the nature of the data that
has been permitted to be collected, the persons whose data may be collected, and
the persons who may require or direct the collection of data. Furthermore, this
paper exaggerates the significance of the criminal identification act, 2022,
using the analogy of how Indian legislators drafted and adopted the
Identification of Prisoners Act 1920 (IPA) and how it changed the approach and
meaning of "measurements" and "data" collected from suspected persons in
violation of their privacy and fundamental rights.
Aside from that, the research identifies a few stumbling blocks or challenges
that invalidate the validity or reasonableness of provisions of Indian law and
the Indian constitution, such as Conflict with the right against
self-incrimination, limitation of structural or infrastructural collection and
maintenance of records, and many other clashes and unexplained terms that have
mentioned in Criminal Identification Act
Statement Of Objects And Reasons
"The object of this bill is to provide legal authority for the taking of
measurements, finger impressions, footprints, and photographs of persons
convicted of, or arrested in connection with, certain offenses. The value of
finger impressions and photographs as agents in the detection of crime and
identification of criminals is well known and modern developments in England and
other European countries render it unnecessary to enlarge upon the need for the
Objective Of The Act
An act to authorize for taking measurements of convicts and other persons for
the purpose of identification and investigation in criminal matters and to
preserve records and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto.
The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act (CPIA), received the assent of the
President of India on 18th April 2022, amid the high-intensity protest by the
opposition. It was passed by both houses of Parliament on 4th April 6,
respectively, which was introduced in lok sabha on March 28, 2022. The
opposition was demanding that it should be referred to the Parliamentary
Standing Committee but the government turned down the demand of the opposition.
This act replaced the 102-year-old Identification of Prisoners Act 1920
(IPA). This act has come up with some big amendments. This act expands the
scope of measurement to be taken of convicts and arrested persons and other
persons such as habitual offenders.
The CPIA has provisions related to:
- Whose data will be collected?
- who will collect the data?
- who will preserve the data?
Under both the act, (Identification of Prisoners Act 1920 and Criminal Procedure
Act 2022), resistance and refusal to give data are punishable under the act.
The police will be allowed to collect, preserve and analyze the physical and
biological samples including the retina and iris scan of the convicts and
arrested persons, according to the criminal procedure Act, 2022, whereas the
IPA, 1920 allowed only the sample of finger and footprint of the convicted and
arrested person. However, the CPIA Act has met with protest and resistance
from both, Opposition and the legal fraternity over the violations of
privacy and fundamental rights of the convicted and arrested persons.
Background of the Act
The Criminal Procedure Identification Act, of 2022 repealed the Identification
of Prisoners Act, of 1920, so the history has its roots back in the 18th
century. IPA, 1920 allowed the police officer to collect the identification
(fingerprint & footprint) of the convicted and arrested person. Under this act,
the Magistrate also had the power to order measurements and photographs of the
convicts to be taken in order to aid in the investigation process.
apparent even in the 102 years act that on acquittal, the data which was
collected will be destroyed by following due procedure. From the script of the
act, this is lucid that the objective of the act was to ensure rapid and correct
investigation. Over the period of time, the technology has been revamped, which
can be used in criminal investigation, and also the modus operandi of doing
crime has also been changed, so it was very necessary to make alterations in the
IPA, 1920 and this led to the introduction of the Criminal Procedure
(Identification) Act, 2022.
For example, The DNA Technology (Use and
Application) Bill, 2019, pending in Lok Sabha, brings forth the framework for
using DNA technology to collect data. In 1980, the Law Commission of India
while examining the 1920 Act, noted that it is now pertinent to revise the 1920
Act with modern tools and technology. In 2003 the Expert Committee on Reforms of
Criminal Justice which was chaired by Justice V. S. Malimath recommended that
the 1920 act should be amended by empowering the Magistrates to collect the data
such as blood samples for DNA, hair, saliva, and semen.
With this view, the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, was introduced in
lok sabha on March 28, 2022, and passed by both houses of Parliament on 4th
April and 6th April respectively.
Features/ credentials of the Act
The Act expands to certain criteria like:- The type of data that may be
collected, Persons from whom such data may be collected, and the authority that
may authorize such collection. It also provides for the data to be stored in a
The important features of the act are mentioned below:
The distinction between the 1920 Act and Criminal Procedure Identification Act,
- Type of data collected:
Under the existing law, the police can take finger impressions, footprint
impressions of a limited category of convicted and unconvicted, and photographs
on the order of the magistrate, but according to section 2(1)(b) of the new
law, will allow the police to take photographs, biological samples, and their
analysis, behavioral attributes including signatures, handwriting, and
examinations under section 53 and 53A of CRPC (includes blood, semen, hair
samples, and swabs and analysis such as DNA profiling). It does not limit the
measurements to those required for a specific investigation.
- Whose data may be collected:
Under the old act, data could be collected only for those convicted or arrested
for offenses punishable with rigorous imprisonment of one year or more.
Under the new act, data can be collected from anyone who is convicted or
arrested for any offense. However, biological samples may be taken forcibly only
from persons arrested for offenses against a woman or a child, or if the offense
carries a minimum of seven years imprisonment. Section 5 of the act also
authorizes Magistrates to compel "any person" to give vital details for
identification and investigation in criminal matters if the Magistrates is
satisfied that it is necessary to do so. It doesn't define "any persons",
implying its ambit extends beyond convicts, arrested persons, or detainees.
The act also says that if a person resists giving information, the police can
take it forcibly in a manner that may be prescribed by the executive later. The
legislation awards limited power to refuse the collection of information.
Section 6(2) of the said act also states that if any person resists giving
information then he would be guilty under Section 186 of the I.P.C.
- Who will collect the data:
Under the IPA, 1920, a Magistrate may order data to be collected in order to aid
the investigation of an offense. The new Act allows the head constable (which is
a lower rank used in the new Act in comparison to the old act� where it was a
sub-inspector), and head warden of a prison to take measurements.
- Retaining data:
The act allows the retaining of the data for 75 years. The National Crime
Records Bureau, which falls under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, will
collect, store, process, share and destroy the data. The data would be
deleted only on the final acquittal or discharge of a person arrested for an
offense. Moreover, information about first-time offenders who are released or
acquitted will be deleted after all legal remedies have been exhausted.
Relevance of this Act in the contemporary world.
|Changes in CPIA, 2022
Data permitted to be collected
|Fingerprint, Footprint, Palm print, Photographs
(i) Biological samples and their analysis, (ii) behavioral attributes
including signatures and handwriting, (iii) examination under sec 53 and
53(A) of Cr.PC(semen, blood, retina, iris, hair samples and swabs)
Persons whose data may be collected
- Convicted or arrested person for offenses punishable with rigorous
imprisonment for one year or more.
- Persons with security for good behavior and peace.
- Magistrates may order to collect the data from any arrested person,
if deemed necessary for criminal investigation.
- Convicted or arrested for any person. However the biological sample
may be collected forcibly with the person for the offenses against the
women or a child, or if the person has been imprisoned for minimum 7
- Person who has been detained under any detention law,
- Magistrate can order any person(not just arrested person) to aid in
Persons who may require/ direct collection of data
|Investigating Officer, Officer in charge of
police station, officer rank of sub-inspector or above.
||Officer in charge of a police station, officer
rank of head constable, or above. Besides this head warden of prison is also
assigned for this under the new act.
||First class judicial magistrate or Metropolitan
Magistrate (MM), in case of a person required to maintain good behavior and
peace, the Executive Officer will be appointed.
102 years back in 1920, just after the Non-Cooperation Movement, amid the peak
of nationalism, the British Government brought in the Identification of
Prisoners Act 1920 to increase their control by expanding the scope of
surveillance on the Indians. Law enforcement authorities were empowered to
collect the data such as photographs, footprints, and fingerprints of the
convicted person (and sometimes even not convicted person) and made rules for
their storage and destruction.
Therefore, it is ironic to say that post 75 years of the independence of India,
the government has come up with a fresh piece of legislation, to replace the 102
years old prisoners act, with more personal data by expanding the boundary of
the "measurements" and with no safeguard to privacy. The CPIA, 2022 which was
passed in the end of March, stated the objectives as set out in the "Objective
and Reasons" that the intention of the makers is to update the law with the new
technique in measurement, and identification that has evolved over the period of
time. And for that, they have expanded the contour of the measurement which now
includes fingerprints, footprints, palm prints, semen, iris, and behavioral
attributes which include signatures.
Problems arising in Criminal identification act
Despite being focused on technological advancements in the investigation
procedure of a crime, the criminal identification act suffers from certain major
problematic concerns that can question its validity and execution.
Firstly, this act, neither mentioned any framework nor defined any procedure
that how the collected measurements or data would be used for analysis and then
how as to be used for the investigation with regard to that crime. Thus, the
word 'analysis; which has been used with regard to measurement, is undefined
which becomes a loop hole because there is no assurance in relation as to how
these collected measurements could be analyzed and consequently what data can be
gathered from such analysis of those measurements. Therefore, the ambit of said
act only concerned and exhausted the collection of the measurements for the
identification and inspection purposes.
The other issue of concern is in relation to structural capacity as collection
and maintenance of measurements for records. The CPIA, 2022 states that the
National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shall be authorized for the collection and
management of records of measurements in congruence with the State Government or
Union Territory Administration or any other law enforcement agencies.
However, NCRB is established as depository of informations and data of crime and
criminals. It does not have any department which can be responsible for the
collection of such measurements including biological samples.
Although, The Central and State Forensic Science Laboratories which are less in
quantity would be required to play and become responsible to perform their
substantial role. Besides, this act enlarges the scope of person which led to
creation of functional difficulties in assembling and collection of such
measurements along with their analysis and preservation for 75 years in the form
of data. Whereas, India does not have any foundation with regards to data
protection by the government.
The Bombay High Court in Jitendra v. State of Maharashtra
 held that,
it becomes needful for laboratories to make sure the quality control in
biological samples along with their analysis and administer them with high
The other issue of concern is with the nature of the measurements that have been
collected which may sometimes make the identification and the investigation
embroiled. In the case of Puttaswamy v. Union of India
, it was noticed
that biometrics technology has detect only 99.76% not 100% accuracy.
Subsequently the Court held that this error of percentage is very minute but
when such error has been seen from the perspective of the large population, this
failure in itself becomes a magnificent static. Besides, the court also observed
that the changing character of biological models is like the formation of
fingerprints of an individual because he is getting old.
Thus, when such measurements including biological data have been kept for a
longer time as records after the analysis of the same. Then later on, in some
cases there may be chances that such measurements had changed or left its
originality which causes unessential victimization of unimpeachable individuals.
Thus this pattern of collection of such measurements may be determined as a
black hole for the inspection and investigation of a crime.
The Criminal Identification Act, 2022 empowers for collection of certain
recognizable information of the persons even for the investigation of the crime
or an offense that has committed. The identifiable information or data of the
persons which are specified in the said law is of personal nature, consequently
that personal data covered under the privacy of a person and would be protected
under fundamental rights i.e., Right to Privacy which recently has been
recognisedzed as fundamental rights under article 21 by the Supreme court.
Probably, there may be certain conditions and cases where the personal
information of the individual can be infringed which is of course contrary to
Apart from all these loopholes, Criminal identification acts also have some
other problems like: - In the context of biometric technologies, abuse has
already been documented � for example, twin reports by Georgetown Law
documented widespread misuse of facial recognition systems, bringing likely
accuracy in some cases near zero. Yet, the new Act still relies on collecting
the said unreliable biometric data and use it against the persons or detainees.
Conflict with the right against self-incrimination
In India, this right is recognized as an essential attribute inscribed in
article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution and by virtue of section 161(2) of the
CRPC, 1973. 161(2) of the CRPC requires that every person being questioned must
respond justly to the question posted to him. But within the clause itself,
there is an exception to this, that if answering the question can lead to the
incrimination of that person, then he is not bound to answer those questions.
But if it appears that there is no possibility to make guilt probable then the
person is bound to answer the question.
Section 2(1)(b) of CIPA, includes finger impressions, palm-print impressions,
footprint impressions, photographs, iris and retina scans, physical and
biological samples and their analysis, behavioral attributes including
signatures and handwriting, or any other examination referred to in Section 53
or Section 53A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973. This provision is
quite ambiguous and subject to misuse as it does not define what a biological
sample means and may be expanded to Narco analysis, Polygraph test, and Brain
Electrical Activation Profile.
Legal Scrutiny of this Act
Any act or law has to go through the prism of the legal world for the legal
scrutiny so that we have filtered provisions of the law or act ensuring that no
provisions would violate the fundamental rights of the citizens.
This particular act gives wide power into the hands of the State and its police
authority during the investigation that is under process. This act empowered the
investigation agency to collect, analyze, and storage of the biometric and
personal data such as retina scans, iris scans, fingerprints etc., of any person
arrested by the executive wing of the state which includes the convicted person.
The term "any person" gives a wider scope into the hands of the investigation
agencies, because it does not specify lucidly who are those people which will
come under the umbrella of this act.
And what makes it the most violative of a fundamental right is that according to
section 6 of the act if any person refuses to give personal data to the
investigative agencies then that person will be liable under section 186 of the
I.P.C. This provision of the act not only encroaches upon the individuality of
the person but also violates the right to a fair trial under Article 21 of the
There are some provisions in this act that do not pertain to the new scientific
evolution over the century of what "measurement" can be taken from the body.
Firstly, this act expands the ambit of the law's operations to arrest the person
for any offense, including persons arrested under preventive detention laws. In
the current times, it is an apparent and undisputed fact that there are abuses
of the police power of arrest and more abuses in preventive detention laws.
For instance, in this act the word that is mention is "may" and not "shall"
which is basically giving the wide power in the hands of the administration
which can be used against the convicted person to give measurement against the
will or consent. If we take it from the other side, then it can be traced that
if the convicted person is not obliged to give data under the guise of word
"may", but then it is punishable under section 6 of the CIPA Act. Also it
can be inferred from the language of the Section 4 and 5 of the act that a
person is not obliged to
Second, the act has the provision of collection of the data of the convicted
individuals for 75 years. It means the data will be there in the hands of
law enforcement agencies for the lifetime of the individual. There is no answer
for the question of how this permanent collection of the data will lead to help
in the prevention or investigation of the crime? This also raises serious
concerns over data protection and privacy rights of individuals.
Third, the Act has the provision that NCRB (National Crime Record Bureau) is
empowered to collect the data and then disseminate the personal data of the
convicted person to any law enforcement agency. Sharing and disseminating
personal information is against the principle of data protection. Also the
principle of "purpose limitation" states that even where the data collection
is legally justified, data that has been collected should be used for specific
purpose and also for specific period, not for anything else. But according to
this new act the data collected can be used against any crime, which is
contradictory to the "purpose limitation".
As per the Section 3 of the act, the police officer not below the rank of
the Head constable and prison officer not below the rank of Head Warder has the
authority for collection of the data under their management without any
specified manner or prescribed manner, and gives an open hand to the
investigation authorities to do anything to collect the data. Such a wide power
into the hands of the State and its investigation agencies creates a doubt that
whether the data collected is fairly done or not?
Moreover, the Apex Court in landmark case Sunil Batra vs Delhi Administration
1979, clearly stated that when a person is in jail, the jail authorities
have no power to punish, torture or to discriminate amongst them without the
permission of the court, and person in jail still has the right to life and
personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.
What needs to be understood here is that not all crimes require collection of
personal data of convicts, it is only the specific cases where investigation
requires the personal data of a convicted or arrested person.
The Criminal Procedure (identification) bill was passed by both the houses of
the parliament that resulted in the enactment of a welcome piece of legislation
i.e., Criminal Procedure (identification) Act, 2022. The said act repealed the
existing Identification of Prisoners Act 1920. The new act has come up with some
big amendments in the existing law. The new act empowers the concerned central
and state government authorities for taking measurements of the detained or
arrested persons for the investigation of a crime that has been committed or
likely to be committed.
The new act has broadened the scope of measurements, though in the earlier act,
restricted the scope of measurements for the purpose of investigation of a
crime. Moreover, the new act increased the 'arena of persons or authorities who
are allowed to take the collections and maintain the records of data and
measurements after analysis which are required for the identification in a
Subsequently it could be seen, the new act has many loopholes, some of them can
be recognised directly and some others would be recognised in due course of
time, when this act executes and it is brought for legal scrutiny before courts
for being in conflict with the fundamental rights� mainly right to privacy and
equality of an individual. It becomes important and necessary that this act has
to scrutinize the technology aspect with regard to investigation and collection
of measurements because, nowadays criminals try to make themselves adept in
technology to keep themselves away from the criminal liability.
To make this new act more effective and reasonable, it is mainly needed that the
term which creates chaos or not defined properly in a reasonable manner and that
will sound vague, should be corrected. Moreover, the allied frameworks whose
application would be necessary for its execution has to be clearly defined, like
the Government should be concentrated on the Data Protection Bill in order to
protect and safeguard the general public's interests.
- Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 available at: https://legislative.gov.in/sites/default/files/A1920-33.pdf. Accessed 15 Dec. 2022.
- Section 6(2) : Resistance to or refusal to allow the taking of measurements under this Act shall be deemed to be an offense under section 186 of the Indian Penal Code.
- Section 2(b) : "measurements" includes finger-impressions, palm-print impressions, foot-print impressions, photographs, iris and retina scan, physical, biological samples and their analysis, behavioral attributes including signatures, handwriting or any other examination referred to in section 53 or section 53A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
- Section 2(a) : "measurements" include finger impressions and foot-print impressions;
- 'The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill: Opposition Slams It As "Unconstitutional, Direct Violation Of Fundamental Rights"' https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/the-criminal-procedure-identification-bill-opposition-slams-it-as-unconstitutional-direct-violation-of-fundamental-rights-2848083 accessed 15 December 2022
- 'A Critique of the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 | OHRH' https://ohrh.law.ox.ac.uk/a-critique-of-the-criminal-procedure-identification-bill-2022/ accessed 15 December 2022
- "DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019." 27 Jun. 2019, http://18.104.22.168/billstexts/lsbilltexts/asintroduced/128_%202019_LS_eng.pdf. Accessed 15 Dec. 2022.
- 'DNA Technology Bill Is Under Consideration, Data Banks to Be Set Up: Centre' https://thewire.in/government/dna-technology-bill-is-under-consideration-data-banks-to-be-set-up-centre accessed 15 December 2022
- "Committee on Reforms of Criminal Justice System." 31 Mar. 2003, https://www.mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/criminal_justice_system.pdf. Accessed 15 Dec. 2022.
Criminal Identification (Procedure) Act, 2022 available at: https://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2022/235184.pdf.
Accessed 17 Dec. 2022
- Section 5: Where the Magistrate is satisfied that,
for the purpose of any investigation or proceeding under the Code of
Criminal Procedure, 1973 or any other law for the time being in force, it is
expedient to direct any person to give measurements under this Act, the
Magistrate may make an order to that effect and in that case, the person to
whom the order relates shall allow the measurements to be taken in
conformity with such directions
- Section 6(1) : If any person who is
required to allow the measurements to be taken under this Act resists or
refuses to allow taking of such measurements, it shall be lawful for the
police officer or prison officer to take such measurements in such manner as
may be prescribed.
- Section 6(2) Resistance to or refusal to allow the
taking of measurements under this Act shall be deemed to be an offense under
section 186 of the Indian Penal Code.
- Section 2 (c) "police officer"
means the officer-in-charge of a police station or an officer not below the
rank of Head Constable.
- Section 4(2) :The record of measurements shall be
retained in digital or electronic form for a period of seventy-five years
from the date of collection of such measurement:
- 4. (1) The National
Crime Records Bureau shall, in the interest of prevention, detection,
investigation and prosecution of any offense under any law for the time
being in force, (a) collect the record of measurements from State Government
or Union territory Administration or any other law enforcement agencies; (b)
store, preserve and destroy the record of measurements at national level;
(c) process such record with relevant crime and criminal records; and (d)
share and disseminate such records with any law enforcement agency, in such
manner as may be prescribed.
- Section 4(2) : Provided that where any
person, who has not been previously convicted of an offense punishable under
any law with imprisonment for any term, has had his measurements taken
according to the provisions of this Act, is released without trial or
discharged or acquitted by the court, after exhausting all legal remedies,
all records of measurements so taken shall, unless the court or Magistrate,
for reasons to be recorded in writing otherwise directs, be destroyed from
- Section 2(b) : "measurements" includes finger-impressions,
palm-print impressions, foot-print impressions, photographs, iris and retina
scan, physical, biological samples and their analysis, behavioral attributes
including signatures, handwriting or any other examination referred to in
section 53 or section 53A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
4. (1) : The National Crime Records Bureau shall, in the interest of
investigation and prosecution of any offense under any law for the time being in
(a) collect the record of measurements from State Government or Union territory
Administration or any other law enforcement agencies;
(b) store, preserve and destroy the record of measurements at national level;
(c) process such record with relevant crime and criminal records; and
(d) share and disseminate such records with any law enforcement agency,
in such a manner as may be prescribed.
- Origin |National Crime Records Bureau'
accessed 17 December 2022
- 2017 SCC OnLine Bom 8600
- (2018) 1 SCC 809
Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd) vs. Union of India, W.P. (Civil) No 494 of
2012, Supreme Court of India, August 24, 2017.
- Criminal Identification Bill
Follows Similar Unsuccessful, Discriminatory Laws Elsewhere' (The Wire)
accessed 17 December 2022
- Section 161(2) Such person shall be bound to answer
truly all questions relating to such a case put to him by such officer,
other than questions the answers to which would have a tendency to expose
him to a criminal charge or to a penalty or forfeiture.
- Section 6 of the
Criminal Identification Act, 2022.
- Privacy breach: Andhra Pradesh cops
take biometrics of night commuters, The Times of India, Feb. 9,
(last visited Mar 24, 2023).
- Section 4(3) & 5 of the Criminal Identification
- Section 6 (2) Resistance to or refusal to allow the taking of
measurements under this Act shall be deemed to be an offense under section
186 of the Indian Penal Code.
- Section 4(2) of the Criminal Identification
- Section 4 (1) of Criminal Identification Act, 2022.
protection and privacy laws | Identification for Development,
visited Mar 27, 2023).
- Golden Data Law, What does "purpose limitation"
mean under EU Data
Protection Law?, Golden Data (2019),https://medium.com/golden-data/what-is-purpose-limitation-under-eu-data-protection-law-fff4406ffe6
(last visited Mar 27, 2023).
- Section - and language if gap then mention law
is silent (in text)
- Section 3 of the Criminal Identification Act, 2022.
- 978 (4) SCC 409
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Kalash Jain
& Harsh Shrivastav
Authentication No: JU353112230956-14-0623