Why is it in the news?
- In a bid to modernize and enhance the capabilities of the Indian police force, the Centre has taken a significant step following the approval of the Criminal Procedure Identification Act (CrPI) by the Parliament.
- This move comes after over a year of the Act’s passage.
More about the news
The Criminal Procedure Identification Act (CrPI)
- The CrPI was passed in April 2022 with its rules being notified in September 2022.
- The Act empowers police and Central investigating agencies to collect, store, and analyse various physical and biological samples. This includes retina and iris scans from arrested individuals.
- Despite the Act’s clear guidelines, its provisions are yet to see a full ground-level implementation. Police officials have highlighted logistical and connectivity issues that are causing delays.
The Role of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)
- NCRB has been at the forefront, tasked with the responsibility to roll out the Act. They are also in charge of finalizing the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) which the police officials will follow while recording these new measurements.
- The Act and its rules did not directly address the collection of DNA samples and face matching procedures. However, in subsequent discussions, the NCRB informed state police officials that these measures would be introduced in approximately 1,300 locations.
Involvement of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)
- To ensure the Act’s successful implementation, MHA has constituted a Domain Committee. This committee brings together representatives from State police, Central law enforcement agencies, and other key stakeholders.
- A specialized sub-committee has also been created specifically for preparing SOPs related to DNA capturing.
- Measurement Collection Unit (MCU): States have been directed to identify suitable locations where MCUs can be established, based on recommendations from the NCRB.
- Database Repository: All data collected will be maintained at a national level by a central body under MHA’s supervision.
Integration with Existing Systems
- National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS): Managed by NCRB, NAFIS is already in place at about 1,300 police stations. This system, which holds fingerprint details of over 1 crore individuals, will be integrated with the new procedures introduced by the Criminal Procedure Identification Act.
- Legislative Evolution: The CrPI Act is a significant upgrade from the outdated Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920. The previous act had a limited scope, mainly revolving around capturing basic identifiers like finger impressions, footprints, and photographs of certain individuals.
- Concerns and Safeguards: While the new Act offers advanced tools, concerns about misuse of databases have emerged. The NCRB has emphasized the need for appropriate safeguards. They insist that access to this data should be restricted to designated officials.
- Financial Considerations: The implementation does come with its set of financial challenges. A state police official highlighted the funding issues, pointing out that while MHA will cover the hardware costs, other operational expenses will fall on the states.
- Validity and Concerns: When the Act was initially introduced to the Parliament in March 2022, it faced opposition. Critics labelled it as “unconstitutional” and believed it posed threats to individual privacy.
- The Centre’s move to roll out DNA and face matching systems signals a commitment to evolving law enforcement capabilities. However, the implementation comes with its set of challenges and concerns that need addressing.