- The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 was passed in Parliament this month
- Delhi HC directed Centre to file reply within six weeks in PIL challenging newly-introduced Act
- PIL said "provisions constitute a clear attack on 'personal liberty"
The Delhi High Court on Thursday issued notice to the Centre on a plea seeking a judicial review of the provisions of the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022. The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 was passed in Parliament this month and received the President's assent and was subsequently published in the Gazette of India (Extraordinary) on Monday. Directing to file a reply within six weeks in the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the newly-introduced Act, a division bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla slated the matter for further hearing on November 16.
In the PIL, the petitioner Harshit Goel sought a judicial review of Sections 2(1)(a) (iii), 2(1) (b), 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 of the Act and prays for appropriate direction to declare the aforesaid provisions of the Act as unconstitutional and void. It is worthwhile to mention here that the new Act grants legal sanction for the Police to collect finger impressions, palm prints impressions, footprint impressions, photographs, iris and retina scans, and physical and biological samples. It also allows the authorities to collect behavioral attributes including signatures, handwriting, or any other examination referred to under Section 53 or Section 53A of CrPC. The petition contends that the 'biological samples', their 'analysis', and 'behavioural attributes' can be taken forcibly in case of resistance or refusal with the support of this act.
It said that the fundamental right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 provides a shield to protect 'bodily integrity and dignity', and such protection extends to prisoners, undertrials, arrested persons, detainees in the course of investigation and persons in protection homes. Forcing an individual to part with his 'measurements' under the provisions of the Act violates the standard of 'substantive due process' which is required for restraining personal liberty. As per the plea, Sections 3 and 5 of the Act, in flagrant violation of the law laid down by the Supreme Court, allows excessive, coercive, and arbitrary intrusion into the dignity of a convict as well as of an individual who may be called in for simple questioning, or who is involved in the pettiest of offences.
These provisions constitute a clear attack on 'personal liberty and clearly fall foul of Article 21 of the Constitution and are thus liable to be struck down. It further stated that Section 8 of the Act suffers from the vice of excessive delegation since the legislature has clearly abdicated its legislative function vide this Section. Section 8 allows the Central Government and the State Governments to frame rules regarding issues that are the subject matter of legislative policy without providing any guidance or framework on rule-making to the Executive.