'Draconian legislation': MP Premachandran on criminal procedure bill

In an interview with DH, Premachandran slammed the bill and said 'this is not a Police State'
Last Updated 29 March 2022, 02:00 IST

The government on Monday tabled a bill in Lok Sabha expanding the scope of a 102-year-old law to allow police to take physical and biological samples of convicts as well as persons accused of crimes. It argues that a change in law is needed for the use of modern techniques to capture and record appropriate body measurements. RSP's NK Premachandran, who opposed the introduction of the Bill along with Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Manish Tewari, Saugata Roy and Ritesh Pandey, spoke to DH's Shemin Joy.

What are your basic objections to the Bill?

This is draconian legislation. Police are getting excess authority to capture personal data. This is applicable to both convicts and those who are arrested. If I am arrested for a protest to protect civil rights and if an FIR is registered, then the police can take my measurements. Now, if you slap charges which can lead to imprisonment of over seven years, they can even take my biological samples. What is the logic? What is the intention? This is also against the Human Rights Declaration. It is against the Right to Privacy. Our existing law says that no person should be forced to provide evidence against himself. So it is not within the competence of Parliament to pass such legislation. This will be struck down by the Supreme Court.

Do you suggest that this is some project of profiling?

Definitely. The data collected will be stored for 75 years by the NCRB. The government can use this to profile minorities, political opponents and activists. There is a concern. When the Data Protection Bill is pending, you are collecting this by changing an existing law. You are now bringing a Bill that will make this country a Police State. This Bill gives authority to a Head Constable or a Jail Warden and not a senior official to collect these data. The government is very callous. They have some malafide intentions.

Those who are convicted for less than seven years barring crime against women or children need not provide biological samples. Hasn’t the government taken enough precaution?

If the police decide to invoke an IPC section which entails punishment above seven years, what will you do? So there is scope for misuse.

The government argues that the 100-year-old law needs to be updated, with development in technology in the fight against crime. Isn’t it a valid argument?

There is no problem in updating a law. But here the problem is that there is no clarity on how the government intends to prevent any misuse. Tell me why should I give my samples just because somebody files an FIR against me and the police want to take my samples even before I am convicted.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) also points to other countries, which collect data from such people. When other countries are using it, why shouldn’t we?

This is a democracy. This is not a Police State. They say modern technology is there and we should use it. But how are you securing it? How are you ensuring that my rights are not trampled upon?

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(Published 29 March 2022, 02:00 IST)

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