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Govt Notifies Rules to Collect Measurements, Physical Samples of Convicts and Accused Persons

The government of India has issued a notification, giving rules for taking measurements and samples of accused and convicted persons under the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022.

The bill, when introduced, saw many opposing voices calling it “unconstitutional” and “draconian”.

The details to be collected include fingerprint impressions, palmprint impressions, footprint impressions, photographs, iris and retinal scans, physical, and biological samples and their analysis, behavioural attributes including signatures, handwriting, etc.

The government has said that a superintendent of police (SP)-level person will be authorised to give written permission to collect the details of arrested persons. The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) will issue the standard-operating procedure (SoP) to take measurements.

Rules for measurement

According to the notification, the authorised user or any person skilled in taking the measurements or a registered medical practitioner or any other person so authorised on this behalf may take the measurements of a person for the purposes of the Act but with prior approval from a police officer not below the rank of superintendent of police.

“Provided that the measurements of a person arrested in connection with an offence under Chapter IXA or Chapter X of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (45 of 1860) shall be taken with the prior written approval of a Police officer not below the rank of Superintendent of Police. Provided further that the measurements of a person charged with violation of any prohibitory order issued under section 144 or section 145 or arrested under section 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) shall not be taken unless such person is charged or arrested in connection with any other offence punishable under any other law for the time being in force,” the new notification says.

It means measurements of protesters violating section 144 and arrested during protests can be taken if they are charged with any other offence punishable under any other law for the time being in force.

Similarly, measurements of a person shall not be taken on the initiation of proceeding under section 107 or section 108 or section 109 or section 110 of the said code unless such a person has been ordered to give security for his good behaviour or maintaining peace under section 117 of the said code for a proceeding under the said sections.

The BPRD has been tasked to issue the SoP for taking the measurements, specifications of the equipment or devices to be used for taking measurements, etc. Also, the SoP for the specifications and the format, including digital or physical, of the measurements to be taken, method of handling and storage of measurements in the database at the level of state government or union territory administration in a format compatible with the database of the bureau and information technology system to be used for taking of measurements will be determined by it.

What if a person resists or refuses?

According to the latest notification, if any person who is required to allow the measurements to be taken under the Act resists or refuses to allow the taking of such measurements, the authorised user shall take the measurements in accordance with the provisions of sections 53 and 53A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974).

Collecting, storing, preservation, etc, of data

The collecting, storing, preservation, processing, sharing, dissemination, destruction, and disposal of measurements will be done in the manner given in the notification. The record of measurements will be stored and preserved in a secure and encrypted format as specified in the SoP.

“In case any measurement is collected in physical form or in a non-standard digital format, it shall be converted into standard digital format and thereafter uploaded in the database. Standard digital format in which each type of measurements shall be converted before uploading into the database,” the notification says.

An authorised user, for matching the record of measurements of a person, shall forward the request to the BPRD through the device and the bureau shall match the record and provide a report to the authorised user through a secure network as soon as possible. The procedure for destruction and disposal of records shall be specified in the standard operating procedures.

“Any request for destruction of record of measurements shall be made to the Nodal Officer to be nominated by the respective State Government or Union territory Administration or Central Government, as the case may be, concerned with the criminal case in which the measurements were taken,” the home ministry said.

The request for destruction of the record of measurements shall be recommended by the nodal officer to the bureau after verifying that such record of measurements is not linked with any other criminal cases. Any act of unauthorised access, distribution or sharing of data collected under the Act shall be punishable as per the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and the Information Technology Act, 2000, the notification says.

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