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Collecting biological samples of convicts unconstitutional: Chidambaram

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Senjo M R
April 06, 2022 19:54 IST
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Congress leader P Chidambaram on Wednesday termed as 'unconstitutional' the Bill that seeks to provide legal sanction to the police to take physical and biological samples of convicts as well a those accused of crimes.

IMAGE: Congress MP P Chidambaram speaks in the Rajya Sabha during the second part of the Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, April 6, 2022. Photograph: ANI Photo

Taking part in the discussion on the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022, which was moved in Rajya Sabha by Home Minister Amit Shah, Chidambaram favoured sending the bill to a select committee for further deliberations before it is passed.

 

The former Union home minister claimed that the provisions in the bill can be misused as the police can arrest and take fingerprints and DNA samples of even those who are taking part in political rallies.

"Is there anyone in this House who has not violated a law? I ask the honourable home minister who has had an active political career, have you never violated any law?...even if you are convicted of an offence where the punishment is Rs 100, this law applies," Chidambaram said.

He claimed that the worst sufferers will be the 'oppressed and the poor.'

"This bill is unconstitutional. This is illegal. We are deceiving ourselves if we are passing a bill. This bill has a huge net, which can embrace anyone in this country. And you know what happens when a law of this (kind) is applied, the worst sufferers will be the disadvantaged, oppressed and the poor," he said.

Opposing the bill, Chidambaram said, "I ask this House to reflect. Since we won't have time to reflect today, I beg of you to send this to a standing committee or send this to a select committee and let them examine and come back. What has waited for 102 years can wait another 102 days."

He said even in Lok Sabha various suggestions were made to amend the Bill and to refer it to a select committee but not one suggestion was accepted by the government.

"When a Bill like this is moved and passed in this House, we are wittingly or unwittingly breaking the Constitution every day," Chidambaram asserted.

Expressing concern over various sections of the Bill, Chidambaram asked how it would ensure that taking physical and biological samples from convicts and persons accused of crimes would not violate their liberty and privacy.

Citing Supreme Court judgments, he said, "Since 2010, the law in this country is that narco analysis, polygraph tests and BEAP (brain electrical activation profile) are unlawful, unconstitutional. They violate liberty and privacy."

Asserting that there is ambiguity in the bill on how 'measurements' for physical and biological samples are defined, he demanded that the government should make it clear if narco analysis, polygraph tests and BEAP are included in it.

He also expressed apprehension that the proposed law will apply to any person convicted of an offence punishable under any law and even those charged with petty crimes.

Arguing that there is a lack of clarity in the definition of law enforcement agency in the Bill, he said it must be properly defined.

Taking part in the discussion, Bharatiya Janata Party's Mahesh Jethmalani refuted Chidambaram's allegations, saying advanced technological improvements and particularly the use of biometrics -- considered the gold standard for investigation of crimes and for detection of criminals -- are now used worldwide.

"The conviction rates in this country suffered as a result of not bringing in technological advancements in biometrics that help detect crime," he said.

Jethmalani, however, agreed with Chidambaram's apprehension about the impact of the Bill on those convicted for petty offences and detenus and said, "Perhaps that part needs a second look at."

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Senjo M R© Copyright 2022 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
 
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