A NEW ERA FOR DNA TECHNOLOGY IN INDIA

Although the use of DNA Technology in criminal investigations has been used world-wide, India did not have any regulations for the same. The use of such technology allows for an effective and efficient justice delivery mechanism. DNA based forensic technology involves using DNA specimen in legal proceedings in order to ascertain the identity the victim and perpetrator. Since this particular science has the ability to be misused or abused, it is important to have certain regulations protecting its use.

Finally, on 5th July 2018, the Indian DNA Based Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2018 was given the assent of the Union Cabinet. The utility of DNA based technologies for solving crimes and to identify missing persons, is well recognized across the world and the primary purpose for the enactment of this Bill is to use DNA based forensic technology to aid the judiciary in delivering fair and equitable justice throughout the country.

The Bills provision will allow for cross-matching between people who have been reported missing and unidentified dead bodies found around the country. Further, the same technology can be applied for identifying the victims of mass disasters. For ages,  developed countries have utilized the DNA based technologies to solving cases which have affected humans for ages. The National Crime Records Bureau disclosed statistics for the year of 2016 which showed that the offences categorized as affecting the human body and those against property are in excess of 3 lakhs per year. This technology is expected to provide a speedier justice delivery system and through that increase conviction in criminal cases.

The Bill further seeks to make it mandatory for DNA Laboratories to get accredited and to ensure that they are regulated properly to ensure that the proposed use of the technology provides reliable and concrete DNA test results that can be used in investigations by the courts or other enforcement authorities.

Through this bill, the law enforcement agencies will collect the DNA samples in order to create ‘DNA Profiles’ and other special databanks for forensic criminal investigations. The databanks can only store information related the particular criminal investigations and in-effect the details of those suspects who are not convicted, will be deleted. This ensures that privacy of the individual is protected, something of particular importance after the SC’s opinion on the Adhaar Card controversy came to light.

As for the enforcement and regulating bodies, the Bill has proposed establishment of a DNA Profiling Board which would be the ultimate authority and would function to authorize the creation of State-level DNA databanks, approve methods of DNA Collection and inquire DNA-technologies.

The press-release of Department of Biotechnology does not provide much insight in the bill but what it does disclose is the manner of taking the data, storing the data, utilizing the data and how all of this is regulated. The DNA Profiling Board would be under Department of Biotechnology. Through this India is moving towards a better future for the justice delivery system. As evident through the years of record for countries like US which have been using such DNA Technology, this sort of technology can be extremely useful for a country with population like ours. The only problematic aspect of this bill which might affect the public is the method of DNA data collection which is still unknown. The country is still quite weary of privacy practices after the whole Adhaar fiasco. What remains to be seen is how the Department of BioTechnology and the Union Cabinet counters. A proper evaluation of the bill might provide a better insight on this matter, so only time will tell what happens. But surely, the Justice system has, through this bill, received an extremely helpful tool for achieving its objects.

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