Topic: The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022: A Privacy Breach or A Vital Tool Against Crime?
Today, I will be talking about the Rajya Sabha’s new bill, allowing law enforcement officials to collect the biological samples (e.g. blood, hair samples and swabs) of inmates and felons, titled the “Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022.” This can be exceptionally vital for criminal investigations but will also forever restrict our right to privacy.
Firstly, let us read more into this. According to PRS India, the changes in the bill, from the previously existing 1920 Identification of Prisoners Act, are the additions of biological samples (including their analysis,) signatures, handwriting, and “examinations under sections 53 and 53A of CrPC (includes blood, semen, hair samples, and swabs, and analyses such as DNA profiling)”. In addition to this, the samples are permitted to be taken from any person who committed crimes against women or children, or simply if their crime entails them to be confined for a period longer than 7 years.
Now let’s look at the positives of this act. Predominantly, it will assist law officials, (police officers, investigators, detectives,) in solving cases, heightening their ability to detect crime, combatting “next generation crimes”, and reduces the number of innocent convictions yearly, in addition to assisting in resolving identity issues of individuals. This will generally decrease crime rates in India, allowing for a lower government expenditure on the formal crime system, and increases the general quality-of-life for citizens, pushing socio-economic development.
Now onto the negatives. A central fault of this bill is the invasion of rights of citizens, and the fundamental entitlement to privacy. With the collected information being held onto for up to 75 years, it truly does not allow people the basic privilege of being forgotten or starting over. The Supreme Court themselves, have recognised the right of privacy as fundamental. If the government starts to bleed into the lines between right and wrong, when will enough be enough? This may simply be the start of something far larger, as without restrictions or clear laws regarding privacy, these governmental bodies are far more likely to exploit and misuse the provided information.
To conclude, there are both positives and negatives of the passing of this new bill. With advantages such as a greater force against fighting crime, and disadvantages such as an incredible breach of privacy, I wish for you, the reader, to ponder this question, and truly consider whether you believe this to be a step forward, or the beginning of something far worse.
Written by Arjun Sabherwal (MYP 3A)