From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : NAFIS
Mains level : Not Much
The Union Home Minister has inaugurated the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS).
What is NAFIS?
- NAFIS is developed by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) at the Central Fingerprint Bureau (CFPB) in New Delhi.
- The project is a country-wide searchable database of crime- and criminal-related fingerprints.
- The web-based application functions as a central information repository by consolidating fingerprint data from all states and Union Territories.
- In April this year, Madhya Pradesh became the first state in the country to identify a deceased person through NAFIS.
Utility of NAFIS
- It enables law enforcement agencies to upload, trace, and retrieve data from the database in real time on a 24×7 basis.
- It would help in the quick and easy disposal of cases with the help of a centralised fingerprint database.
How does it work?
- NAFIS assigns a unique 10-digit National Fingerprint Number (NFN) to each person arrested for a crime.
- This unique ID will be used for the person’s lifetime, and different crimes registered under different FIRs will be linked to the same NFN.
- The 2020 report states that the ID’s first two digits will be that of the state code in which the person arrested for a crime is registered, followed by a sequence number.
- By automating the collection, storage, and matching of fingerprints, along with digitizing the records of fingerprint data, NAFIS will provide the much-needed unique identifier for every arrested person.
- It will be included in the CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems) database as both are connected at the backend.
Is this the first time that such an automation project is being attempted?
- Upon the recommendations of the National Police Commission in 1986, the Central Fingerprint Bureau first began to automate the fingerprint database.
- It began with digitizing the existing manual records through India’s first Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFI) in 1992, called Fingerprint Analysis & Criminal Tracing System (FACTS 1.0).
- The latest iteration, FACTS 5.0, which was upgraded in 2007, was considered to have “outlived its shelf life”, according to a 2018 report by the NCRB and thus needed to be replaced by NAFIS.
Since when has India relied on fingerprinting as a crime-fighting tool?
- A system of fingerprinting identification first emerged in colonial India, where it was tested before it spread to Europe and beyond.
- At first, it was used by British colonial officials for administrative rather than criminal purposes.
- William Herschel, the chief administrator of the Hooghly district of Bengal, from the late-middle 1800s onwards, used fingerprinting to reduce fraud and forgeries.
- It then aimed to ensure that the correct person was receiving government pensions, signing land transfer deeds, and mortgage bonds.
- Anthropometry, the measurement of physical features of the body, was used by officials in India but was soon replaced with a system of fingerprints.