[Editorial] Technology and Policing

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NCRB Foundation Day – March 11

  • The union home minister remarked that the second phase of the Inter-operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS) is set to be completed by 2026.
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What the editorial is about?

  • How technology can make policing better — and also more dangerous?

Technology for Policing

The Inter-operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS)

  • It is a Rs 3,500 crore project, is set to be completed by 2026 with increased use of artificial intelligence, fingerprint systems and other tools of predictive policing.

Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS)

  • One crore fingerprints had already been uploaded and if these were available to all police stations as part of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS), there would no longer be any need to pursue criminals.

The existing systems of ICJS and CCTNS empower the state to cross-reference data between different pillars of the criminal justice system.

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Associated Concerns


  • The enthusiasm for generating and cross-referencing data to make policing more efficient ignores privacy concerns and structural faults of policing.
  • The Supreme Court in K.S Puttaswamy declared a fundamental right to informational privacy as paramount and noted that any measure that sought to collect information or surveil must be legal, necessary, and proportionate.

Mass Surveillance

  • Integrating “fingerprint-based criminal record data fetching system” to the list of predictive policing practices will give birth to mass surveillance, particularly of certain oppressed caste communities, based on little evidence.

Criminal Tribes Act, 1871

  • Nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes were ascribed “criminality by birth” and considered as “hereditary criminals addicted to the systematic commission of non-bailable offences” under the colonial Criminal Tribes Act, 1871.

Habitual Offenders (HO) provisions

  • It has been replaced with the murky Habitual Offenders (HO) provisions, which have acted as a tool for police to continue to attribute criminality to Vimukta communities, by mandating their surveillance through regular check-ins at police stations.
  • Mere suspicion or FIRs filed against an individual are sufficient to trigger the discretionary powers of the police.

Way Forward

  • With the interlinking of policing data, across different jurisdictions and centralized through the ICJS, the targeting runs the risk of being replicated as a pan-India phenomenon.
  • So, there is a need to pay attention to the risks involved and the issue of misuse with the increasing adoption of technology in policing.

Practice Question for Mains

  1. With the increasing adoption of technology in policing, marginalized communities risk coming under undue police surveillance and suspicion. Examine. (150 Words, 10 Marks)
Referred Sources


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