When everything fails, finger prints may come in handy for investigators to solve a crime but almost half of the posts in state Finger Print Bureau lie vacant even as efforts are on to give legal cover for investigators to collect more such data, including those of not just convicts but suspects too.
Latest available statistics show that around 1,100 out of 2,343 posts in Finger Print Bureau are vacant with states like Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana reporting more than 50% of vacancies.
The 'Finger Prints in India 2018' report, released recently by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), showed that Tamil Nadu has the highest number of vacancies at 333. There are only 67 personnel in the finger print bureau in the state where the total sanctioned officers are 400.
Karnataka has a vacancy of 85 while 122 out of 207 sanctioned posts were in position in 2018. Gujarat has a sanctioned strength of 103 posts in which 54 are vacant while in Haryana, 58 out of 93 posts are vacant.
The national capital has only 15 posts vacant out of the 73 sanctioned posts. Maharashtra has 192 posts vacant out of 614 sanctioned ones.
The NCRB has also been arguing for amendments in Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 to empower police officers and finger print experts to capture advance biometrics of arrested persons by allowing them to collect finger prints of suspects too, leading to a significant increase in the national database, according to the report.
At present, the law covers the mandatory collection of finger prints of only convicts and arrested persons for offence punishable with one year rigorous imprisonment.
In its recommendations to the Ministry of Home Affairs on the 100-year-old Act, the NCRB has proposed change in the title of law to 'Identification of Arrested and Suspected Persons Act', inclusion of biometrics such as palm impressions, voice samples, iris scan and DNA typing among others. It is also seeking powers for magistrate to order for taking measurements of juveniles.
Investigators say that finger prints provide the "most reliable and infallible scientific clue, which not only identifies a person but also, excludes him from the rest of the world".
"For more than over a century, finger print science is still one of the most important tools used by various investigating and law enforcing agencies across the globe. Many a times, it is established, when all other leads fail, it is the fraction of a finger impression recovered from the scene of crime that helps link the crime to the criminal," a previous NCRB report on finger prints had said.
History of Finger Prints
* Idea that finger prints could be used for personal identification was first put forward by Sir William Herschel, District Magistrate of Hooghly District of Bengal province in 1858.
* Later, Dr Henry Faulds gave the idea of tracing a criminal from the latent prints found at the scene of crime and came to the conclusion that no two finger prints are alike.
* Based on the idea of Herschel and Faulds, renowned English Scientist Sir Francis Galton established scientifically the basic principles of uniqueness and permanency in finger prints.
* Sir Edward Richard Henry, the Inspector General of Police, Lower Bengal with the able assistance of two Indian officers Khan Bahadur Azizul Haque and Rai Bahadur Hemchandra Bose, developed a system of classification of finger prints.
* First ever Finger Print Bureau in the world was established at Writer's Building at Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1897.