Deoxyribonucleic acid commonly known as DNA is a genetic material found in all almost all the organisms across the globe. It is a hereditary material i.e. it is passed on parent to offspring. All the cells of a body contain DNA and across a single body all the DNA are identical. It is mostly present in nucleus of the cell but a small amount can also be found in the mitochondria. DNA of each person is unique and the variation sequence of the DNA can be used to match the individuals and identify them.
So, what is this bill and why there is a need of it? The DNA regulation bill is introduced in the parliament third time. It is intended to establish a regulatory framework about the DNA technology its usage, storage, preservation its protection and its authorization of usage. The bill establishes an authority at center(National DNA Data Banks) and state level(Regional DNA Data Banks) for keeping DNA information.
The information will be stored in 5 major indexes that are crime scene index, suspects’ index, undertrials’ index, missing persons’ index, unknown deceased persons’ index.
This storage of DNA will make identifications of person a matter of keyboard search and will be a hundred percent accurate. The bill has a provision of regulatory board which will authorize labs to collect DNA. It will give a framework upon the collection and removal of DNA and how it will be used i.e. law of usage of DNA. This bill was the demand of the time as many countries have already been using DNA information in various aspects and majorly in crime investigation and India has not been utilizing this technology.
Introduction of this bill will bring a great change in methods of investigation and in collecting evidence and DNA has been proved to be infallible and irrefutable evidence. DNA information will help in solving crimes and identifying missing persons in just a matter of keyboard search.
This surely will support and strengthen the justice delivery system of our country. Often cases are closed on the basis of non-conclusive evidence DNA technology will be game changer for such cases as DNA information is a concrete evidence. Thus, it will clear the pending cases and will increase the conviction rate of the court. Fugitive of justice who have ran away and changed their identity can’t escape DNA as it is a permanent and unchangeable identification mark. DNA information will be a revolution in criminal justice and it is the need of the hour.
What the concerns of this bill and how it is related to right to privacy and what is its constitutional validity? DNA is a genetic material and can be very informative about the body from where it is collected. One can use DNA to determine the kinds of diseases someone is prone to as well as one’s behavior be it mental or sexual. Such informations are sensitive and in wrong hands can be dangerous. There are several laboratories which research on DNA its unclear in the bill if it is imposing strong restrictions on such research and laboratories. In the early version of the bill the consent requirement in civil cases for collection of DNA was missing which is one of the main reasons it could not be passed as an acting law.
Currently, the use of DNA for identification of individuals is not regulated. Bill has gone through several changes and improvements since it was first created. It is still a matter of debate and yet to be passed and be an enforced law in the constitution. It does not has a constitutional validity yet. However the improved version of bill is better addressing the concerns of privacy, as it has now a provision of consent in civil cases as well as criminal cases. DNA information has to be protected and the biological sample has to destroyed and should not be further analysed for any information as the information can be sensitive and can be harmful in hands of wrong authority.
However the DNA profile is nothing more than a digital signature and can only be used to conform or establish the identity of a person. The DNA profile created form the biologiocal sample is completely harmless and after that the biological sample must be destroyed and only the DNA profile should be preserved. A strong law must be provided to stop any further examinations or analysis on the DNA and should make sure that the biological sample has been destroyed and is not given anywhere else.
The bill has penalties on tempering with DNA data, i.e.
All three will result to imprisonment upto 3 years and a fine up to one lakh rupees. Further intentional destruction or tempering with biological evidence is imprisonment upto 5 years and fine up to 2 lakh rupees. The bill has a provision where it clearly states that in all matters for punishment less than 7 years require consent in collection of DNA however the cases in which the convict has been punished more than 7 years of age does not require consent in collection of DNA as a DNA profile is a must to identify such convicts as they can be a subject to more cases or further crimes. The bill also addresses civil component like progeny issue and IVF(in vitro fertilization). The bill has been already been presented twice and this is the 3rd time, improved version of the bill covers all the matters of debate and privacy concerns. The DNA Technology and Regulation bill is the need of the hour and should be enforced as a law.
Who will be authorized to collect DNA and how will the data be protected? The regulatory board will authorize labs across the country for collection and analysis of DNA data. A written consent will be required by the individuals to the authorized labs for the collection of their biological samples. Furthermore the DNA data will be used to create DNA profile which will be very neutral. No harm can be caused by those DNA profiles and it will be assured that the biological sample will be protected and destroyed so that no further analysis can be done on it for obtaining any kind of sensitive information about the individual. As mentioned above there are provisions of imprisonment and fine upto 5 lakhs in case of any misuse or any unauthorized information exchange.
However as mentioned above suspects who get imprisonment of above 7 years will not be asked for consent in collection of their DNA data. Once the data obtained it will be analysed to create a DNA profile. The bill also provides a list of sources of for collection of DNA for profiling. The list includes elements such as blood sample, hair and mouth swab. Once DNA profiling is done by the laboratories they are required to share DNA data prepared by them with regional and national DNA data banks. The bill also addresses the removal of DNA data from the crime scene index or missing persons’ index only if a written request has been provided by the individual to the authorities. However the DNA profile of a suspect will be removed after the police report as per the courts order. In case of undertrails the DNA profile is only be removed on the basis of court’s order. These laws and provisions are in the bill to protect the DNA data and help the judicial system to serve better.
Do we have the trained staff and technology to collet DNA data? It is still in making since DNA regulation bill is still a bill not an acting law so there is no official training or assigned officers that are authorized to use DNA as an informative tool. India has already been using DNA information from quite sometime for investigative help and other medical research purposes. The Center DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics(CDFD) based in Hyderabad has been doing a great contribution in this field since 1990.We already have advance tools and trained individuals in this field, but till this date no regulatory frame work has been provided and no provisions in law has been given upon DNA usage and regulation. We do have trained officials and we have facility to train more but a regulation and law of usage of DNA information has to be enacted for the system to work and to start a complete and controlled usage of DNA as an informative tool and start a revolution in case of DNA technology. This bill will prove itself a game changer and will start a new era in India and its judicial system.
At last, I would like to conclude this by saying that, DNA is a irrefutable and completely accurate way to establish an individual’s identity and is already been at use by many countries and has proven itself to be as helpful as possible especially for investigative purposes. India has not been utilizing it to its full potential due to lack of a regulatory frame work and a proper law regarding its usage and protection and preservation. The DNA regulation bill will provide the lacking regulatory frame work and will help to establish a proper system of DNA usage as well as laws to prevent any kind of misusage. It will protect all kinds of sensitive information of the DNA and will assure to only use it for establishing an identity of a person. It will make the judicial system faster since DNA is a concrete and conclusive evidence. It will further strengthen our justice delivery system and will being a vital and much needed change in field of evidence. It is high time that bill should be passed and introduced as a law and bring a revolution in this field.
(P.S. I could not include particle law since it is still a bill yet to be passed so it has no sections or articles yet)
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