AN EXPANSIVE NEW LAW THAT WILL COLLECT VAST AMOUNTS OF DATA OF PEOPLE CHARGED WITH PUNISHABLE OFFENCES
The rule of law is the lifeblood of a constitutional democracy and citizens are expected to obey the law of the land. Otherwise, without just laws societies will simply descend into chaos. The idea of laws keeps evolving with the passage of time to stay in step with the changes in our societies and evolution of technology. Laws are also vital for securing the constitutional rights of the people.
However, civilisational history is also witness to the state enacting laws that infringe upon the rights of the people and lead to curtailment of freedoms. Laws need to be well and narrowly defined to prevent their misuse and to address the critical issue of proportionality. In India, over the past 75 years, there have been several instances when widely defined laws have been enacted and have been grossly misused for a variety of purposes.
In this context, the freshly-minted Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022, which replaces the 102-year-old Identification of Prisoners Act, bestows sweeping powers on the police force of the country.
The new law is so expansive in its span and scope that legal experts fear it will impinge on the right to privacy. The extent of personal and behavioural data and, in some cases, biological samples of those charged with punishable offences that can be collected stokes apprehensions of gross misuse. In our cover story this month, we have tried to weigh the multiple dimensions of the new law’s implications.
The other important issues that we have looked into in detail are the rise in child labour and the deteriorating mental health of a large number of people due to the recurring waves of the Covid-19 pandemic. Both issues need to be addressed proactively for the greater good of the nation. Equally critical is the danger that India’s coastline is facing due to increased human activity and rising sea levels that threaten to inundate approximately 33% of coastal land.