Law Commission Submits Draft Bill For Human DNA Profiling; Proposes Setting Up Of National And Regional DNA Data Banks [Read the Report]
The Law Commission of India, on Wednesday, submitted its 271st report titled “Human DNA Profiling – A Draft Bill for the Use and Regulation of DNA Based Technology” to the Government.
The report claims to have “thoroughly examined” the draft of “The Use and Regulation of DNA-based Technology in Civil and Criminal Proceedings, Identification of Missing Persons and Human Remains Bill, 2016” forwarded to it by the Department of Biotechnology.
“The Commission has taken into consideration the various aspects of DNA profiling and the absence of an appropriate regulatory mechanism for the use, retention and expunction of body substances, DNA samples and DNA profiles,” it explains.
The Commission is understood to have opined that merely amending the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 may not serve the purpose sought to be achieved. “In view of the scope of the use and misuse of human DNA profiling, it has been felt that it is required to be regulated by a special law with well delineated standards, quality controls and quality assurance systems to ensure the credibility of the DNA testing, restricting it to the purposes laid down in the Act. Thus, there is a need to regulate the use of human DNA profiling through a standalone law of Parliament so that such use is appropriately regulated and restricted to lawful purposes only,” the report goes on to state.
It further acknowledges that the question of Right to Privacy being a Fundamental Right is under consideration before the Supreme Court, and emphasizes on its endeavor to ensure that the provisions of the proposed Bill are in conformity with the constitutional provisions.
Following are some of the salient features of the recommendations:
- Constitution of a DNA Profiling Board, a statutory body to undertake functions such as laying down procedures and standards to establish DNA laboratories and granting accreditation to such laboratories; and advising the concerned Ministries / Departments of the Central and State Governments on issues relating to DNA laboratories. The Board shall also be responsible to supervise, monitor, inspect and assess the laboratories. The Board will frame guidelines for training of the Police and other investigating agencies dealing with DNA related matters. Advising on all ethical and human rights issues relating to DNA testing in consonance with international guidelines will be another function of the Board. It will recommend research and development activities in DNA testing and related issues, etc.
- DNA profiling would be undertaken exclusively for identification of a person and would not be used to extract any other information.
- There shall be a National DNA Data Bank, and Regional DNA Data Banks for the States, to be established by the Central Government. The Data Banks will be responsible for storing DNA profiles received from the accredited laboratories and maintaining certain indices for various categories of data, like crime scene index, suspects’ index, offenders’ index, missing persons’ index and unknown deceased persons’ index.
- With a view to assist the kith and kin of missing persons, provisions have been made for proper identification of missing persons on the basis of their bodily samples/substances.
- Appropriate regulations may be notified by the Board for entry, retention and expunction of DNA profiles.
- Maintenance of strict confidentiality with regard to keeping of records of DNA profiles and their use.
- Sharing of DNA profiles with and by foreign Government or Government organisation or Government institutions or any of its agencies, for the purpose of this Act.
- The violators of the provisions would be liable for punishment of imprisonment, which may extend up to three years and also fine which may extend up to Rs.2 lakhs.
- The under trial may request the trial court for another DNA testing if s/he satisfies the court that the previous DNA sample(s)/bodily substance(s) stood contaminated and hence could not be relied upon.
- The DNA experts may be specified as Government Scientific Experts and be notified as such under clause (g) of sub-section (4) of section 293 of Cr. P.C.
Read the Report here