DNA Technology Bill 2018

DNA Technology Bill - Context

Very recently the Lok Sabha has okayed the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2018 which enables them to regulate the use of DNA techniques to recognize certain defined categories of individuals under investigation, registry of offenders, alleged undertrials criminals, etc.

Antibodies Structure  https://pdb101.rcsb.org/motm/21
Photo by ANIRUDH / Unsplash

Need for the legislation and its significance

  • Needful in solving crime cases.
  • Verification of missing individuals.
  • Strengthen or nourish the justice delivery system of the country.

Highlights of the Bill

Institution of the DNA data banks at center and state (DNA data banks - National databases and registry for recognition or acknowledgment of criminal, suspect, victim, missing individuals, and forensic remains of human remains.

DNA Genotyping and Sequencing. Automated DNA chip loading at the Cancer Genomics Research Laboratory, part of the National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG).
Photo by National Cancer Institute / Unsplash
  1. Punishment: Any individual involved in the illicit job of leaking the DNA or those who retrieved the DNA information with illegal means are liable for prosecution or be penalized. And according to the court orders, the person may face strict jail time for the term of 3 adjacent or consecutive years and a fine up to INR 1.0 lakhs.
  2. Usage: The bill specifies that the DNA data collected at the national DNA registry should and shall only be used for identification or to acknowledge the living beings for the purpose of solving crimes or according to the court orders.
  3. Cross-Matching for required identification: Cross-matching and witnessing the correlation between two different incidents or events. (Example: correlation between missing person report and finding of an anonymous dead body. or else identification of the mass dead bodies in the event of an extreme disaster (earthquake, flood, etc.))
  4. Institution of the DNA Regulatory Board: The bill specifies and mentions the need for the establishment of the DNA Regulatory Board, to authorize/license the DNA labs around the country.

Advantages/Merits of the Bill

  • By providing necessary accreditation, and licensing authority to validate the DNA laboratories, the Bill pursues to safeguard the proposed intentional use of the technology in the country.
  • Approval of the bill also assures the DNA test results of the licensed DNA laboratories (Govt. undertaking) are considered to be genuine and expected to remain away from the abuse malpractice of DNA test results and citizens' privacy rights.
DNA Genotyping and Sequencing
High-throughput DNA processing is enabled by automated liquid-handling robots at the Cancer Genomics Research Laboratory, part of the National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG).
Photo by National Cancer Institute / Unsplash

Significance and Concerns of the DNA technology

Many justice systems and governments around the world consider DNA Tests and Analysis as a reliable source of evidence to solve the crime or any other identification-related cases. Thus it has become the solid benchmark and accurate standard around the world.

  • A mere sample of bloodstain, a single hair strand, from the crime scene may generate enough information and data to build a series of identification to solve the case.
  • DNA technology can reveal all biological data of individuals.
  • Considering the potential of DNA technology, it would require greater safeguard to ensure the safety of the DNA information as it poses a greater threat of information misuse in a country like India.
  • The primary objective of the Bill is to gear up the Indian Judicial system with DNA identification technology for the speeder process and delivery of the results of the pending increased court cases - a 30% increase in conviction (NCRB Statistics for 2016).