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Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022: Does It Violate The Right To Privacy?

Recently, the Parliament introduced a bill called Criminal Procedure ( Identification) Bill, 2022. This bills aims to replace the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920. Though in cases like State of UP v Ram Babu Mishra, Supreme Court have suggested to amend the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, but this bill of 2022 is receiving a lot of criticism due to its certain provisions which seems to be violative of the Right to Privacy of prisoners, convicts and even of primary citizens

According to this bill, the biometric data including facial recognition, iris and retina scan and other physical and biological details of the convicts will be gathered by the law enforcement agencies and would be stored for nearly 75 years by the government servers. The purpose of these provisions is to promote smart policing, by which the police will be able to easily identify the criminals and keep a biometric record of history sheeters for their easy identification in future crimes.

The major bone of contention in this new bill is the use of the term 'measurement' which is not limited to measurement but also the 'analysis' of the data collected. Another provision which is receiving huge criticism is the applicability of these provisions to people who are under preventive detention and those who are convicted of minor offenses. This can also result in conviction of people who are not actually the real culprits, as their biometric details can be misused. Further, these provisions are also in contravention of Article 20(3), which provides the right to accused against self incrimination. It is argued that this will lead to mass surveillance and increase in bias towards certain group of individuals.

Supreme Court in Justice Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. vs Union of India and Ors have laid down the proportionality test which includes the four basic aspects of legitimate goal, rational connection, necessity and balancing in order to decide whether a legislation is violating the right to privacy or not. The critics are of the view that the bill is violative of the proportionality test as it is providing the government agencies the power beyond their democratic arena where the private details of individual are being recorded on permanent bases for a time frame which is exceeding even the average life span of Indians.

Though the bill also contain a provision which says that if a person with no criminal record is released without trial or acquitted by the court, all records so taken shall be destroyed. This provision is hereby reclaiming the sanctity of Right to Privacy. But the real question is whether the data collected once can be completely destroyed and what is the guarantee of such complete destruction?

The government should add such provisions in the bill which can lay down proper procedure as to who should be eligible for biometric storage of private data and thus, the scope of those undergoing such biometric measurement should be narrowed down. An effective procedural system, where the use of this power should be in complete check should be encouraged so that such data does not get misused and rule of law remain bestowed.


Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Ruchi Mahil
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