The DNA Based Technology (Use and Regulation) Bill, 2017

Context:
  • The Union Cabinet has approved The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill 2018.
  • The Bill aims at expanding application of DNA-based forensic technologies to support and strengthen justice delivery system of the country.
 
Bill provisions
  • It allows law enforcement agencies to collect DNA samples, create “DNA profiles” and special databanks for forensic-criminal investigations.
  • It states that all DNA data, including DNA samples, DNA profiles and records, will be only used for identification of the person and not for any other purpose.
  • It creates DNA Profiling Board (DPB) that will be final authority that will authorise creation of State-level DNA databanks, approve the methods of collection and analysis of DNA-technologies.
  • It makes accreditation and regulation mandatory for DNA laboratories.
  • It allows government to set up DNA data banks across India to store profiles.
  • These banks will maintain national database for identification of victims, accused, suspects, undertrials, missing persons and unidentified human remains.
  • It also empowers government to impose jail term of up to 3 years and fine of up to Rs. 1 lakh on those who leak information stored in such facilities.
  • It prescribes similar punishment for those who seek information on DNA profiles illegally.
 
DNA Profiling Board
  • The Board, with 11 members, is supposed to be the regulatory authority that will grant accreditation to DNA laboratories and lay down guidelines, standards and procedures for their functioning.
  • It will advise central and state governments on “all issues relating to DNA laboratories”.
  • It will also be the authority to make recommendations on ethical and human rights, including privacy, issues related to DNA testing.

 

ias4sure.com - The DNA Based Technology (Use and Regulation) Bill, 2017

 
DNA Data Bank
  • A national databank of DNA profiles is proposed to be set up, along with regional databanks in every state
  • The new draft does not specify the location of the national databank. All regional DNA databanks will be mandated to share their information with the national databank.
  • Certain DNA Profiling Board-accredited labs would be authorised to carry out DNA testing and analysis. These are the only places to which DNA samples, picked up from a crime scene can be referred for analysis
  • Data from the analyses will need to be shared with the nearest regional DNA databank which will store it and share it with the national databank.
  • The databanks will maintain five sets of databases — for DNA samples picked up from crime scenes, for suspects or undertrials, and for offenders, missing persons, and unidentified dead bodies.
 
Significance of Bill:
  • Bill will ensure that with proposed expanded use of DNA profiling technology in the country, there will be also assurance that DNA test results are reliable and data remain protected from misuse or abuse in terms of the privacy rights of our citizens.
  • It will also ensure speedier justice delivery and increased conviction rate.
  • It will also enable cross-matching between persons who have been reported missing on one hand and unidentified dead bodies found in various parts of the country on other, and also for establishing the identity of victims in mass disasters.
  • It will set in place, an institutional mechanism to collect and deploy DNA technologies to identify persons based on samples collected from crime scenes or for identifying missing persons.
 
Significance of DNA analysis:
  • It is extremely useful and accurate technology in ascertaining the identity of a person from his/her DNA sample, or establishing biological relationships between individuals.
  • As a result, DNA technology is being increasingly relied upon in investigations of crime, identification of unidentified bodies, or in determining parentage.
  • The aggregate incidence of crimes like rape, murder, human trafficking or grievous hurt etc, in the country, as per statistics of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is in excess of 3 lakhs per year in the year 2016. Of these, only very small proportion is being subjected to DNA testing. The expanded use of DNA profiling technology in these criminal cases will result in speedier justice delivery and also in increased conviction rates, which at present is only around 30% 
 
Issues:
  • There are chances that a wrong match is generated.
  • If the DNA result is taken as the ultimate evidence, no recourse will be available to an individual who has been wrongly matched.
  • Privacy-related objections-main concerns are whose DNA can be collected and under what circumstances, who can access the database etc.
  • Information like ancestry or susceptibility to a disease, or other genetic traits, is liable to be misused.
  • DNA tests have not led to an improvement in conviction rates in countries where it is already being followed.