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Report No. 87

Chapter 2


2.1. Fingerprints.-

As enacted, the Act gives importance to three species of evidence-fingerprints,1 measurements and photographs. Of these three, historically speaking, fingerprints are the most important. It is well known that the science of fingerprints originated in India, Sir William Herschel of the Indian Civil Service and Sir Francis Gallon being the scientists who systematised it. The use of fingerprints for the investigation of crime is now a common method all over the world. It has been stated:

"Although the use of fingerprints for identification is said to have been known to the ancient Egyptians, its place in Angle-Saxon jurisprudence was not established until after the middle of the nineteenth century. The Bertillon system of identification which includes photographs, fingerprints and measurements of the body, is of a still more recent date. This system as used in Criminal Law has two main purposes. The first is the identification of the accused person as the person who committed the crime with which he is charged, and the second is the identification of an accused as the same person who has been charged with or is convicted of other crimes. For this second purpose the police of most of the cities of this country (U.S.A.) and Europe attempt to keep the description of every person arrested by them, in permanent records. These records are popularly known as 'rogues' galleries'."2

1. See definition of "measurements".

2. Annotation, Right to Take Finger Prints and Photographs of the Accused, (1933) 83 ILR 127.

Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 Back

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