The controversial bill providing for legal sanctions for the police to obtain physical and biological samples from convicts and detainees for investigation in criminal cases was passed by Lok Sabha on Monday, with Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah claiming it will act as a defender of the human rights of the law. loyal citizens.
He also sought to allay concerns raised by MPs about privacy breaches, urging that all data collected under the proposed law be protected.
The bill, which aims to replace the 1920 Identification of Prisoners Act, was passed by one vote after Shah allayed concerns from the opposition, who claimed the bill was “draconian” and could turn India into a “police state”. †
In response to the opposition charges, Mr Shah said, referring to a provision in the bill, that people arrested for any criminal offense, except those committed against women and children, or who face the sentence not less than seven years imprisonment, cannot be required to allow the collection of their biological samples.
Returning to the opposition for the alleged abuse of the law on the prevention of illegal activities, Mr Shah said that UAPA is not for any particular caste or religion, but “your (opposition) advocacy is only for one caste religion”.
“I still say today that the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) was a law in the interest of this country, it was repealed out of reconciliation, I have no hesitation in saying this. We are not playing ballot box politics. We have come to protect the country, taking the country to the greatest heights in the world,” Shah said.
“Those who talk about human rights (of offenders), it is my request to them that you should think about those who are harassed by criminals. You are concerned about those involved in robbery, rape… I have this bill filed in defense of the human rights of crores of law-abiding citizens of this country, no one should try to paint it differently,” he said.
Shah said the Modi government does not believe in research using “third degree methods”, but through modern technology, database and information.
“There is a need for a balance in the country. In addition to individual rights, we will also have to think about the rights of society and ensure a balance between the two,” he said.
The opposition urged the opposition not to defame the government over the bill, saying the Modi administration has taken a number of measures to ensure police and investigators stay two steps ahead of criminals, including setting up specialized universities for forensic training.
While discussing the bill, members expressed concern about broad provisions in the draft legislation that would give a police chief or a prison chief the power to take “measurements” of convicts and those in protective custody.
Congressman Manish Tewari started discussing the bill, saying the draft legislation was “draconian and against civil liberties”.
Trinamool member Mahua Moitra said the bill sought to replace the Identification of Prisoners Act of 1920, but the proposed law contained fewer safeguards than the one enacted by British colonizers.
Ms Moitra argued that in the absence of a data protection law, the proposed measure did not provide any safeguards to ensure that the information collected was properly protected, and could lead to a violation of the privacy of a person who has not been convicted.
BSP member Deen Ali has been eyeing the bill could turn India into a police state and be used to settle political scores. Mr Ali, Ms Moitra and some other opposition members also demanded that the bill be referred to a standing parliamentary committee.
After several opposition members expressed concerns about the protection of the data collected under the proposed law, Mr Shah assured that it will be protected, appropriate rules will be established and the best forensic scientific experts will be engaged to restrict their use.
Mr Shah said the data is stored in secure hardware and those who “send samples (for matching) will get the results back and the data will not be shared” over the network.
He also claimed that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will be the sole custodian of the data and that no party or private player will be involved in the process.
Don’t make arrests without any grounds, he told opposition members.
Shah said a database has been in use for two and a half years to solve crimes, including car thefts.
“There is no complaint anywhere. If an NGO makes a false complaint after they listen to you, God knows,” Shah said, adding that next-generation crimes cannot be tackled with old techniques.
“We should try to move the criminal justice system into the next era,” Shah said.
This bill was introduced with the sole intention of increasing the number of convictions, curbing the number of crimes and sending a harsh message to society to punish those who commit a crime.
Earlier, when he moved the bill for consideration and passage in the Lok Sabha, Mr Shah said that in addition to the bill, the government is also preparing a model prison manual that will be sent to states.
“Many of the concerns will be allayed with the sending of that prison handbook. It contains several provisions related to topics such as rehabilitation of inmates, bringing them back into the mainstream, limiting the rights of prison officers, enforcing discipline, prison safety , separate prisons for women and open prisons,” Shah said.