Wednesday, April 17, 2024

PMLA: It doesn’t help if you leave India; your family pays for your sins

Pretty much every police station in the world has a simple height and weight recording apparatus, as well as the option to take full body, front and side profile photographs. This is in addition to basic fingerprints as a matter of course.

The sought after country which does not collect complete biometrics and personal data for issuing a simple tourist visa and certainly for immigration or long-stay visas is very difficult to find. This, also, in addition to basic fingerprints as a matter of course.

One of the most sought after countries in the world also includes a full body cavities inspection as a matter of routine for matters as mundane as resisting a traffic stop or searching a vehicle or vessel. Even if out of jurisdiction.

But in India we now have this – “Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill in Lok Sabha on March 4; 3 Opposition MPs to move 24 amendments”

And we also have this – “Criminal Identification Bill: Dal Khalsa calls for protests, says Centre will use law to snoop on citizens”

To understand this better – the collection of biometrics and data is only for those accused and detained on charges that attract jail of more than seven years. Of course, aliens and visitors from other countries will have their biometrics collected, if they wish to apply for visas. Presumably, therefore, foreigners accused of crimes below or above those which attract jail of seven years already have their biometrics on record.

Which is one reason why a particular segment of people, who tend to be foreigners when it suits them but also live on in India forever or for long extended periods, are getting impacted. Try to envisage a situation where a foreigner (biometrics already collected and on record) is arrested or detained as or whilst pretending to be an Indian for a crime that attracts jail of over 7 years?

Bingo. These records are, as is well known, exchanged between countries on specific protocols. 

The next obvious step is collection of DNA samples. Laws like the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) for example place quite a bit of the focus for prosecution on beneficiaries, and not just on the perpetuator – so family members who are beneficiaries of seriously big economic offenders, for example, will be easy to trace.

Uh-oh, next noise, therefore, from the carpet-baggers, and their cohorts.

The Criminal Identification Bill 2020 has been overdue for a long long time, and helps give the majority of law-abiding people a fair chance against the minority of perps. More power to it in a free New India.

(Veeresh Malik was a seafarer. And a lot more besides. A decade in facial biometrics, which took him into the world of finance, gaming, preventive defence and money laundering before the subliminal mind management technology blew his brains out. His romance with the media endures since 1994, duly responded by Outlook, among others.)

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