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On Criminal Identification Bill, 2022

Image courtesy: LiveLaw

Parliament has passed a Dangerous Law, 8 April 2022, Indian Express

Writing for Indian Express, Praavita Kashyap, Lawyer and Trustee of Article 21 Trust, Nikita Sonavane and Mrinalini Ravindranath Lawyers with the Criminal Justice and Police Accountability Project on Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022, argued that it violates the right against self-incrimination and turns the presumption of innocence in an investigation on its head and will fundamentally alter the scope of a criminal investigation by giving unchecked powers to investigating agencies as well as the central government. One concern raised was that the Criminal Tribes Act, 1871 had historically labelled nomadic and semi nomadic communities as hereditary criminals. Despite repeal of the law in 1952 communities continue to be treated as criminals by birth through the “Habitual Offenders” provisions in state-level police regulations that allow local police stations to keep records of such persons residing in their area. Digitisation could push the state and local-level criminalisation of oppressed caste communities to the national level.

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Opinion in Quint

Writing on the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 for the Quint, Maansi Verma, Lawyer and Trustee Article 21 Trust noted that the stated objective of the Bill is to ‘make investigation of crime more efficient and expeditious and help increase the conviction rate.’ However, the real motive behind the Bill is to have greater surveillance and curb dissent. She highlighted that in 2020 National Human Rights Commission raised the issue of India lacking the adequate number of forensic labs and manpower leading to the huge pendency of the cases. This was followed by a question in Rajya Sabha where the Government was asked about the delay in disposal of the cases. It was replied by the Government that disposal depends on various of factors such as category of cases, complexity of facts, nature of evidence etc. The Government reiterated the same in response to another similar question in Lok sabha. Verma argued that the discussion indicated that simply building more databases with multiple measurements of people convicted, arrested or detained is not going to improve the conviction rate unless sufficient investments are made in improving the forensic capabilities of the country.

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Column in titled, “The New Act to Collect Measurements Raises Concerns For Juveniles In India”

Writing for on the issue of the Criminal (Identification) Bill, 2022 and its conflict with the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, Maansi Verma, lawyer and Trustee with Article 21 Trust and Krishna Aruna Sharma argued that the former has been passed in possible conflict with the later. They noted that there is a settled legal position that a special law overrides the general law and there is no presumption that later general law will repeal the earlier special law- and the JJ Act being a special law, applicable only to the Children in Conflict with the Law (CCL) can not be overridden by the Identification Bill that is general in nature as it is applies to the collection of the measurements from any person convicted, arrested, or detained. They stressed that though no exception is created for CCL in the Identification Bill, the JJ Act will override it where a harmonious interpretation of the conflicting provisions is not possible.

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