NAFIS or National Automated Fingerprint Identification System, was inaugurated by the Union Home Minister Shri Amit Shah on 17th August 2022 at a two-days conference of National Securities Strategies.
Madhya Pradesh has become the first state of India who used NAFIS for the identification of a deceased, in April 2022.
Fingerprints identification systems are based on the principle of the uniqueness, reliability, reproducibility and availability of fingerprints. They are the most unique feature of an individual therefore they have been helping the law enforcement agencies for a long time.
The relationship of fingerprints identification in India was established long ago during the British Colonial rule, when William Herschel, the chief administrator of the Hooghly district of Bengal, from the late-middle 1800s onwards, used fingerprinting to reduce fraud and forgeries, in order to ensure that the correct person was receiving government pensions, signing land transfer deeds, and mortgage bonds.
Then in 1897, the world’s first fingerprint bureau was established at Calcutta. The Inspector General of the Bengal Police, Edward Henry, recruited two Indian sub-inspectors, Aziz-ul-Haq and H C Bose, for replacing the anthropometric measurements by the fingerprint records.
It was Haq who first devised a system of primary classification and a system for indexing names in court conviction registers. Henry, however, declined to acknowledge the crucial contributions of his Indian subordinates when he presented the so-called “Henry System of Classification” in England in 1901, and established a fingerprint bureau in Scotland Yard.
It was only in 1925 that Henry admitted the invaluable efforts of Haq and Bose to the system of classification, for which the colonial state bestowed on them the titles of Khan Bahadur and Rai Bahadur respectively.
NAFIS is a country-wide searchable database of criminal related fingerprints. It was developed by the National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB) of India at the Central Fingerprint Bureau in New Delhi, for the quick and easy disposal of criminal cases on the basis of fingerprint records. The system uses a web-based application system to act as a central repository of the fingerprints data consolidated from all the states and union territories.
As per a report submitted by the NCRB in 2020, NAFIS enables law enforcement agencies to upload, trace, and retrieve data from the database in real time on a 24×7 basis.
In the report, former director of NCRB Ram Phal Pawar said that 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 in the CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems) database as both are connected at the backend,”.
The report explains that 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 report also 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.
The automation of fingerprints is not new to India, because the first automation process began in 1986 on the recommendations of the National Police Commission, where the manual records of the fingerprints were converted to the digitized fingerprints database.
The conversion was commenced by the means of India’s first Automated Fingerprint Identification System or AFI (1992), called the Fingerprint Analysis and Criminal Training System (FACTS 1.0). The latest version of FACTS 1.0 was upgraded as FACTS 5.0 in 2007. But a NCRB report of 2018 this version is considered to have outlived its shelf life. And this is the reason it is being replaced by NAFIS.