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Report No. 87

III. Objects of identification

3.10. The objects of identification.-

We shall now deal briefly with the objects of identification. The taking of measurements and photographs for the purposes of identification and the procuring of other evidence for that purpose might have a number of objects to be achieved.

(a) In the first place, if fingerprints or other identifying materials in regard to a particular person have been taken or collected, identification becomes easy when there is a suspected repetition of the offence or of a similar offence by the same person, since it is then possible to check whether the person as to whom the record of identification material has been kept is the person who has now repeated the offence.

Section 3 of the Act would be particularly useful for these purposes, dealing as it does with the taking of measurements etc. of convicted persons or persons who have been ordered to give security for good behaviour. Here, the section looks to the future. Measurements so taken may also be useful in cases where there is a suspicion (at the time of taking measurements or other evidence for identification) that the person made to undergo this procedure has had a previous conviction.1 Here, the section looks to the past.

(b) Secondly, identification may be necessary for the purpose of an investigation into an alleged offence in order to establish the identity of the person arrested with the actual culprit, on the basis of the demonstrative evidence. Ultimately, the material so collected would be tendered as evidence, mainly under section 9 of the Evidence Act. Sections 4 and 5 of the Act of 1920 are primarily concerned with this aspect. Section 7 is also, to some extent, concerned with such identification.

(c) Thirdly, identification may be useful to establish a previous conviction-i.e. identity of the arrested person with a person previously convicted. Section 3 would be useful in this context1. Such previous conviction may itself be admissible in evidence either for imposing higher punishment or (in some cases) as a relevant fact or fact in issues.

(d) Finally, identification may be useful for statistical purposes-for example, measurements of convicted persons may be collected and analysed in order to confirm or reject any theories of anthropological interest that may be put forth in regard to criminals. The Act of 1920 does not directly concern itself with this aspect. But measurements and other material taken under the Act can be used for such purpose also, if necessary.

1. See para. 3.10(c), infra.

2. See para. 3.10(a), supra.

Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 Back

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