History of Fingerprint in India

Dr. Pulkesh Chothani
Dr Pratiksha Rangani  

In the Indian context the history of fingerprinting began long before its use in criminal investigation. It is evidence from the ancient texts that in ancient India both palm and fingerprint were mainly used for astrological purpose. They were not used in legal contract or criminal investigation. During British rule, Sir William Herschel was one of the first to advocate the use fingerprinting in the identification of criminal suspect. (Basu, 2021)

1858- Sir William Herschel utilized thumb print on documents as a safety measure to prohibit the rampant repudiation of signature. (Madea, 2017) (Maltoni, 2003)

1877- In Hoogly (Near Culcutta)-Use Fingerprint on contract and deeds and registered government pensioner’s fingerprint to collection of money by relatives after a pensioner’s death.

Dr. Henry Fauld was a medical missionary to India and Japan who studied fingerprint structure extensively. He was published first European to publish an article stating that visible fingerprints such as bloody, greasy, or sooty fingerprints, may be useful for solving crime.

1882- Sir Francis Galton– he was the first to show scientifically how fingerprint could be used to identify individuals. Beginning in the 1880, Galton studied

fingerprints to seek out hereditary trait.

History of Indian science of hand reading in ancient India. (Basu, 2021)

The earliest known written reference to palm reading in world literature are found in two writing in the ancient Vedic literature of India:” The Law of Manu” and “Vasishtha Rules”- which includes a list of rules given to guide the ascetic in correct way to lead a religious life.

How did of palm reading originate? Or how did the practice of palm read start?

First of all, world literature started around 3000 BC (written on clay tablets). Around that time an Indian Sanskrit text, titled “sarikara Shastra”, was published which includes vedic stanzas that describe how “How Samudrika Shastra” (translated as “Body Knowledge of the Hand”) progressed in the days of Humankind.

In ancient India some texts called Naadi were written by rishi called Agastya who predict the past, present, and future lives of human from their thumb Print.

Naadi palm reading was based on thumb impression (right for men and left for women).

Samudra Shastra also described 12 different fingerprint patterns. Samudra Shastra basically dealt with future prediction of a person. Each and every ridge characters predict the future of person.

Use of handprint as an official document in Mughal period.

In the Mughal period, a common practice among rulers was to sign the routine documents and put their handprint of official document(farman).

Mughal farmans were as majestic as Ashoken edicts or the Balban’s theory of kingship; it is an expression of the magnificence of Mughal era.

British Era:

In 1987, the world’s first fingerprint bureau was established in “Writer’s building”, Calcutta, known as “Bengal fingerprint bureau” was established.

The main aim of this bureau was to standardize the methods of recording, detecting, classifying, developing, and preserving fingerprints.

Two police sub inspectors namely Khan Bahadur Azizul Haque and Rai Bahadur Hem Chandra Bose, were appointed to work in the advancement of science of fingerprinting.

Rai Bahadur Hem Chandra Bose, developed an extended system of subclassification of fingerprints, telegraphic code for fingerprint impression and a system of single digit classification.

Azizul Haque developed a mathematical formula which helped Edward Henry sort ten-digits fingerprint forms into a pigeon hole cabinet system based on fingerprint patterns.

After Independent
Central fingerprint Bureau was established in 1955 in Culcutta (now Kolkata) under the administrative control of intelligence Bureau. In 1973 the administrative control was transferred to CBI and it was in July.1986. that the CFPB was finally placed under the newly formed National Crime Record Bureau and is located at New Delhi.

National automated fingerprint identification system -New Delhi

The NAFIS is a pan India searchable database of crime and criminal related fingerprints. It is managed by National Criminal Record Bureau at the central fingerprint bureau in New Delhi.

The main objective of web-based application is to collect fingerprint data of all the criminal from all the states and Union Territories.

In April 2022 Madhya Pradesh became the first state to implement the NAFIS to identify a deceased person.

Fingerprint have a better chance of solving a crime than DNA… not because fingerprints are better evidence than DNA, but because of the sheer volume of fingerprint records stored in government database.


  • Basu, D. S. (2021). The History of Forensic Medicine in India . Chennai: Deanta Global Publishing Services, Chennai, India.
  • Madea, B. (2017). History of Forensic Medicine. Berlin, Germany: Lehmanns Media Gmbh.
  • Maltoni, D. (2003). Handbook of Fingerprint Recognition. USA: Springer.
  • Reddy, K. N. (2022). The Essential Forensic Medicine& Toxicology. New Delhi/ London: Jaypee Brother Medical Publisher.

Dr. Pulkesh Chothani (MD,  Homeopathy)
Dr Pratiksha Rangani   PG scholar, M.D Part II(Repertory)
Dept. Forensic Medicine and Toxicology
Government Homeopathic Medical College, Dethali, Gujarat

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