What is NAFIS?

On Wednesday (August 17), Union Home Minister Amit Shah launched the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS) at the two-day National Securities Strategies (NSS) Conference 2022 in New Delhi.

About NAFIS

  • According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, NAFIS, established by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), will aid in the rapid and simple disposition of cases by using a centralised fingerprint database.
  • Madhya Pradesh became the first state in the country to identify a deceased individual using NAFIS in April of this year.
  • The National Automated Fingerprints Identification System (NAFIS) project, conceptualised and operated by the NCRB at the Central Fingerprint Bureau (CFPB) in New Delhi, is a country-wide searchable database of crime- and criminal-related fingerprints.
  • By aggregating fingerprint data from all states and union territories, the web-based service serves as a central information repository.
  • According to a 2020 NCRB study, it allows law enforcement agencies to upload, trace, and retrieve data from the database in real time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Each person apprehended for a crime is assigned a unique 10-digit National Fingerprint Number (NFN) by NAFIS.
  • This unique ID will be used for the person's whole life, and multiple offences reported under different FIRs would be connected to the same NFN.
  • According to the 2020 forecast, the ID's first two numbers will be the state code in which the individual detained for a crime is registered, followed by a sequence number.
  • NAFIS would "give the much-needed unique identity for every arrested individual in the CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems) database as both are connected at the backend," former NCRB director Ram Phal Pawar remarked.
  • 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," former NCRB director Ram Phal Pawar said in December 2020, by automating the collection, storage, and matching of fingerprints, as well as digitising the records of fingerprint data.
Is this the first time a project like this has been attempted?
  • Following the National Police Commission's recommendations in 1986, the Central Fingerprint Bureau began to automate the fingerprint database in 1992 by digitising the existing manual records using India's first Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFI), called Fingerprint Analysis & Criminal Tracing System (FACTS 1.0)
  • According to a 2018 NCRB assessment, the most recent edition, FACTS 5.0, which was revised in 2007, was assessed to have "outlived its shelf life" and so required to be replaced by NAFIS.
Since when has fingerprinting been used to combat crime in India?
  • A fingerprinting identification technique originally appeared in colonial India, where it was tried before spreading to Europe and beyond. Initially, it was utilised for administrative rather than criminal purposes by British colonial authority. From the late-middle 1800s onwards, William Herschel, the chief administrator of Bengal's Hooghly district, employed fingerprinting to eliminate fraud and forgeries, ensuring that the proper person was collecting government pensions, signing land transfer papers, and mortgage bonds. The increasing use of fingerprinting was inextricably linked to how 19th-century British administrators perceived crime in India.
  • The increasing use of fingerprinting was inextricably linked to how 19th-century British administrators perceived crime in India.
  • Anthropometry, the measuring of physical aspects of the body, was employed by authorities in India, but it was quickly supplanted by a fingerprint system, which was thought to be more reliable because no two persons could have identical combinations of patterns.