LS heat over bill on full biological record of accused
Amid din, the government on Monday introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha to accord legal sanction to the police to take physical and biological samples of any person accused of crime.
NEW DELHI: Amid din, the government on Monday introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha to accord legal sanction to the police to take physical and biological samples of any person accused of crime. The Opposition vociferously opposed the bill, calling it illegal and unconstitutional.
Agitated Opposition members like Manish Tewari, Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary, N K Premachandran and Saugata Roy forced a vote at the introductory stage of the Criminal Procedures (Identification) Bill, though it was defeated with 120 ayes for the legislation as against 58 nays.
Minister of state for home Ajay Mishra sought to allay apprehensions, saying the bill only seeks to make provisions for the use of modern techniques to capture appropriate body measurements of all accused for investigation.
It is meant to replace the existing Identification of Prisoners Act, which was introduced way back in 1920. The existing law allows taking fingerprints and footprint impressions of a limited category of convicted persons. But under the new bill, the term ‘measurements’ includes finger impressions, palm print and footprint impressions, photographs, iris and retina scan as well as physical and biological samples and their analysis.
Strongly opposing the bill, Congress leader Manish Tewari said it was against Article 20, Sub-Article 3 and Article 21 of the Constitution, adding it was beyond the legislative competence of the Lok Sabha. “Under Article 20, Sub-Article 3 explicitly states, no person or accused of any crime shall be compelled to be a witness against himself,” Tewari pointed out, adding that words like ‘biological samples and their analysis’ in the bill could lead to narco analysis and brain mapping.
Adhir Ranjan Choudhary, Premachandran and others questioned the intention for empowering the police to such an extent through the bill. But, Ajay Mishra countered that the bill grants legal sanction to the police to only take body measurements for efficiency in criminal investigations. The Law Commission, he pointed out, had suggested changes to the law in 1980, but the recommendations were not acted upon for 42 years. On apprehensions raised by Premachandran, Mishra said the Criminal Procedure Code already allowed collection of DNA samples.