Is the BJP-led Union Govt attempting to Resurrect Modern-Day “Criminal Tribes”?

The passing of the ‘Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022’ in the House of the People, which seeks to grossly deny the individual’s fundamental rights and seeks to turn its own people into open-air prisoners, is highly condemnable. The act of the ruling BJP government is the culmination of authoritarianism that seeks to re-create modern-day “Criminal Tribes” by collecting and preserving the biological information of its citizens.

The Modi government has now introduced this new Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022, replacing the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, which was enacted to suppress the freedom fighters who fought against British rule. It is an undeniable fact that the new law is intended to suppress opposition party members, human rights activists, and social activists fighting against the atrocities of this union government.

The Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 was limited to the capturing of finger impressions, foot-print impressions, and photographs of convicted prisoners, and capturing of impressions and photographs of arrested/non-convicted persons (certain categories) only upon a Magistrate’s order. However, the new bill introduced by the Modi government is not only about convicted prisoners, but also about detained people, and it allows police and prison authorities to collect, store, and analyse physical and biological samples, such as retinal and iris scans, blood, sperm, and hair samples, and it may even include DNA samples of convicted, arrested, and detained people. Thus, the bill states that biological data compulsorily collected by the state police shall be handed over to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) and preserved electronically for 75 years.

In addition, the data so collected facilitates the dissemination and distribution of data collected and prosecuted by any central or state law enforcement agency for the prevention, detection, investigation, and prosecution of any crime under any law in force. Furthermore, the fact that those who denigrate such biological specimens are criminals and that there is no legal way to appeal against it clearly illustrates the extent to which this bill violates individual rights. Although it is necessary to modernize the police force to suit evolving technology, the bill should be implemented by the concerned state governments without compromising individual rights. The bill is the first attempt by the Union government to seize State police power that is under the control of state governments in the name of modernization. This is another disaster that has befallen state autonomy.

Further, given that the average age of an Indian citizen is 70 years, how is it fair to collect the biological information of a convict for up to 75 years without his consent, even after he/she has been released after serving his/her term for their conviction? It seems that the basic purpose of obtaining such biological data is to identify not only the family, relatives, community, and area, but also his or her own ethnicity as suspects and to classify them as modern-day “Criminal Tribe”; the law can be perceived as dangerous. What is the answer to how the government can ensure that the collected biological data is protected and not misused in the absence of legal frameworks or administrative structures to ensure the confidentiality of the citizens’ personal information?

Already, every fingerprint of every citizen is recorded on the Aadhar card and their information is being stolen, repeatedly, and now it is not only unnecessary but also unsafe to collect more information. In the current context of great threats to Muslims by Hindu tyrants, it is doubtful that the Modi government has hastily passed the provisions of various sections of the bill in the House of the People without explicit definition. In particular, there is no explanation for who the “other persons” mentioned in the bill stating ‘biological data of convicts and other persons will be collected’. Therefore, if this law comes into effect, it will pave the way for such psychological repression, retaliation, intimidation, and monitoring not only from trial prisoners but also from individuals to the opposition fighting the regime.

Article 20(3) of the Constitution states that “no person shall be compelled to testify against himself for any crime.” The Supreme Court ruled that voluntary consent to search should not be taken as evidence and that silence during the trial is a fundamental right. Even the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, enacted under British rule, allowed only the identification of the offender. But under the current bill, those accused can be forced to testify against themselves by allowing their biological samples for analysis. This is completely contrary to the very basis of the Constitution. Furthermore, the Constitution clearly defines the invalidity of such anti-individual rights laws. Moreover, the Constitution states that a person must be presumed innocent until proven guilty and that Parliament cannot pass any law that violates the fundamental rights of citizens. In addition, the Supreme Court has held that a person arrested and imprisoned for any crime shall have all the rights conferred on him by the Constitution.

Therefore, on behalf of the Naam Thamizhar Katchi, I call on all political parties, human rights organizations, and social activists to come forward and call for the repeal of the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022, which is against the Constitution itself as a complete deprivation of individual rights and liberties. I also urge all opposition parties to unite against the BJP government and defeat this draconian bill, which paves the way for the transformation of the Indian subcontinent into an open-air prison of national races under a monarchy.

– Senthamizhan Seeman

Chief Coordinator

Naam Thamizhar Katchi

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.