HC directives must be implemented soon

Prothom Alo illustration

The High Court directed the authorities concerned to take necessary measures on three matters including introduction of biometric data management at all police stations and prisons in the country to prevent the mistaken identification of the accused. The directives were given in an eight-page full verdict of a case released on 5 July. According to a Prothom Alo report, the home ministry was directed to take necessary measures to this end.

A High Court bench of justice M Enayetur Rahim and, currently a justice at the Appellate Division, and justice Md Mostafizur Rahman gave that verdict on 9 September 2021 after the final hearing on a writ petition filed by a person challenging an arrest warrant issued against him in a case even though he was not the real accused.

Both justices deserve praises for such time-befitting verdict and we expect the government will take measures to implement these directives immediately.

The verdict said biometric data management system including finger print, palm print and iris scanning will have to be introduced in the existing crime data management system (CDMS) of all police stations and prisons.

Besides, image of the face of the accused will have to be added following an arrest in addition to the existing identification form and that face image will have to be uploaded to combined database. It should be the first task of a police station concerned to take the photo of the face of an accused immediately after making an arrest.

There are examples that people are mistakenly facing arrest, landing in jail or even receiving sentence in Bangladesh. Sometimes such incidents happened due to carelessness or negligence or sometimes it has been ‘orchestrated’. No scientific method was followed to ensure the identify of the accused or the detainees and that was the reason for happening these. If directives of this verdict are implemented, such incidents will not happen and that will add a new landmark to the criminal justice system.

If these court directives are implemented, mistaken arrest of someone and sending someone to jail may stop as well as sufferings of people may lessen. And these court directives also go with the Digital Bangladesh. Since there are plans to run many things of the law and court digitally, the government should implement these directives on a priority basis. Sometimes it is also important to fix the age of the accused in addition to ensuring the person’s identity. In many times, age of teenagers and juveniles is ‘faked’ in the case.

Sometime, less age is shown to reduce sentence or sometimes more age is allegedly shown to frame an underage person. If method like health test is used to determine age, then such ‘faking of age’ is expected to be stopped. We urged the government and the judiciary to take necessary arrangement to this end.