The Union Cabinet has approved the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill 2018. The primary intended purpose for enactment of the Bill is for expanding the application of DNA-based forensic technologies to support and strengthen the justice delivery system of the country.
The utility of DNA-based technologies for solving crimes, and to identify missing persons, is well recognized across the world. By providing for the mandatory accreditation and regulation of DNA laboratories, the Bill seeks to ensure that with the proposed expanded use of this technology in the country, there is also the assurance that the DNA test results are reliable and the data remain protected from misuse or abuse in terms of the privacy rights of citizens.
The Bill also aims at speedier justice delivery and an increased conviction rate. The Bill's provisions will enable cross-matching between persons who have been reported missing on the one hand and unidentified dead bodies found in various parts of the country on the other, and also for establishing the identity of victims in mass disasters.
Forensic DNA profiling is of proven value in solving cases involving offences that are categorized as affecting the human body (such as murder, rape, human trafficking, or grievous hurt), and those against property (including theft, burglary, and dacoity).
The aggregate incidence of such crimes in the country, as per the statistics of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2016, is in excess of 3 lakh per year. Of these, only a very small proportion is being subjected to DNA testing, at present. It is expected that the expanded use of this technology in these categories of cases would result not only in speedier justice delivery but also in increased conviction rates, which at present is only around 30 percent (NCRB Statistics for 2016).