DNA Regulation Bill

The government has cleared the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill for introduction in parliament.

Features of the Bill

  • The Bill provides for a regulatory framework for obtaining, storing and testing of DNA samples of human beings, mainly for the purposes of criminal investigations, and with the objective of establishing the identity of a person.
  • DNA testing is actively pursued by the law enforcement agencies for a variety of purposes, such as criminal investigations, the establishment of parentage, and search for missing people. The bill seeks to provide for a supervisory structure to oversee these practices, and frame guidelines and rules so that the DNA technology is not misused.
  • The bill proposes setting up of institutional structures like a DNA regulatory board, and a DNA data bank at the national level and regional centres of the board as well as the data bank at the state level.
  • The DNA regulatory board would be vested with the responsibility to frame the rules and guidelines for DNA collection, testing and storage and the data bank would be the repository of all DNA samples collected from various people under specified rules.
  • The data banks are required to store the information under one of the five indices viz. a crime scene index, a suspect or undertrial index, an offenders index, a missing persons index, and an unknown deceased persons index.
  • The data banks are supposed to store only that information that is necessary to establish the identity of the person.
  • The data stored under the crime scene index can be stored permanently. But entries in other indices have to be removed through processes prescribed.
  • The Bill proposes that testing of DNA samples can be carried out only at the laboratories authorised by the regulatory board and also specifies the circumstances under which a person can be asked to submit DNA samples.

Concerns about the Bill

The concerns over the proposed law have been around three issues viz.

  • Whether DNA technology is foolproof.
  • Whether the provisions adequately address the possibility of abuse of DNA information.
  • Whether the privacy of the individual is protected.

The government is arguing that DNA tests are already happening and frequently used as the most reliable tool to establish identity. Hence it would be better to have regulatory safeguards so that it is carried out only in a prescribed manner and by authorised personnel and institutions.

The government has also claimed that very limited information is proposed to be stored in the indices which reveal about the identity of individual and nothing more would be stored.

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