The Centre, through the Additional Solicitor General, P.S.Narasimha, told the Supreme Court bench of Justices Dipak Misra, A.M.Khanwilkar and Mohan M.Shantanagoudar, on July 17, that the introduction of the Human DNA Profiling Bill in Parliament is in process.
The Centre made this revelation while hearing of the petition, filed by Lokniti Foundation, NGO, seeking directions to authorities, to address the issue of thousands of unclaimed dead bodies, reported annually. The petition seeks steps to maintain DNA profiles of the dead bodies, before their disposal, to help in their identification by their family members.
In view of the Centre’s disclosure, the bench adjourned the case for listing after 12 weeks.
Apart from the Ministry of Home Affairs, CBI, and Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, are respondents in this case.
Previous orders reveal that the Centre, through the then Additional Solicitor General, Neeraj Kishan Kaul, had made similar assurance to the Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C. Pant, when the matter was heard on January 19, 2015. Kaul had submitted to the bench then that “the Expert Committee has given certain suggestions and circulated the same at the appropriate quarters and there is a possibility that a Bill would be introduced in the Budget session”. He had suggested that the matter could be listed some time in the third week of April 2015.
On September 22, 2014, the Department of Biotechnology of the Ministry of Science and Technology filed an affidavit in the case stating that it is piloting human DNA profiling Bill, the objective of which is to establish a National DNA Data Bank, a DNA Profiling Board and the use of DNA profiles for specified purposes and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
The 22.09.2014 order also carried the seminal features of the proposed Bill. The order refers to the bench’s request to Kaul to obtain instructions with regard to two aspects, pending the introduction of the Bill, namely, creation of a Data Bank in respect of dead persons who are not identifiable, and collection of DNA from siblings or others, when there are reports of missing persons, so that it can be matched with that of unidentified dead bodies. It is not clear what was the response of the Department to this suggestion.