India to establish nationwide criminal fingerprint database

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India’s Ministry of Home Affairs has revealed plans to build a nationwide fingerprint database to accelerate the identification of criminals and investigation of crimes across the country.

The MHA database will store 2.8 million fingerprints recorded from arrested for criminal offences, by collating records from all the country’s states.

This consolidated database will the Delhi-based Central Finger Print Bureau (CPFB) already stores over 970,000  fingerprint records of convicted or arrested persons, but these will be added to local government records.

According to the Economic Times, the National Informatics Centre has been tasked with creating a cloud storage space for this integration.

The newspaper adds that the ministry is also considering a proposal to integrate the fingerprint data with other biometric data such as iris templates.

Legal experts have criticised the plan, however.

“Particularly in the case of undertrial prisoners, such a database can constitute a violation of their legal rights and privacy. This can run contrary to the principle of a person being considered innocent until proven guilty and can lead to the police framing persons who have been arrested earlier in cases where they are not otherwise able to find evidence,” Vijay Raghavan, professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences’ Centre for Criminology and Justice,  told First Post India.

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