Errantry — Further thoughts on the new Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act

By: Abhinav Sekhri

As expected (mostly), parliament passed the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill 2022 in double quick time without referring the bill to a committee. It is disheartening, given the obvious flaws that are present in the Bill, but in an environment where courts are unable to hear matters pertaining to important matters of constitutional law (Electoral bonds, anyone?), the threat of a potentially adverse court ruling is pretty low for any legislature to be incentivised to bring the statute in line with the law.

This development is likely to result in states taking steps to pass statutes and rules at their level, as was the case with the regime under the Identification of Prisoners Act 1920—either by way of separate statutes or by specific amendments to the central law. It will probably pan out over the next few months, and it is only then that a clearer picture will emerge. States will probably simply copy out the new central law and re-promulgate their old rules (or not do that and simply continue with the old ones). 

At the same time, there is still that slim chance that some states decide to take the road less travelled and pass laws and rules which offer more robust protection than what the central law has ordained (Yes, it is the hope that kills us). 

Keeping this in mind, I just wanted to plug links here to different state laws and rules for people to see and consider while thinking about the new regime. Some of these are:

  • Rajasthan passed a separate Act in 1956
  • Andhra Pradesh (and post bifurcation, Telangana)
  • Kerala passed a separate Act in 1963
  • Madhya Pradesh passed Rules in 1967
  • Maharashtra and Gujarat had made amendments to the central act which were favourably discussed in the 1980 Law Commission Report
  • Tamil Nadu amended the Identification of Prisoners Act in 2010. The scope was to expand the definition of measurements—a criticism of the old law which was also used to pass the new Act.
  • Special attention must be paid to the 2021 amendment by Karnataka to the Identification of Prisoners Act as it was applicable to that state. It is surprisingly similar in its terms — with some obvious differences — and it would be helpful to see how this new regime fared in the months prior to the 2022 Bill being rushed through parliament.

These are only for some states which I could find without too much effort, and I would urge others to contribute to help make this a more comprehensive list. This is in the sincere thought that considering what was in store before the 2022 Act might help to determine how best to face the challenges that this new piece of legislation has brought forward.

[The author is a criminal lawyer based in New Delhi. This article first appeared on his blog, ‘The Proof of Guilt’.]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s