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.
Key Features of the Bill
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.
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.
The utility of forensic DNA profiling based technologies for solving crimes and to identify missing persons is well recognized across the world. It has proven value in solving cases involving offences that are categorized as affecting human body (such as rape, murder, human trafficking or grievous hurt) and those against property (including burglary, theft and dacoity).
The aggregate incidence of such crimes 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% (NCRB Statistics for 2016).