The Union Cabinet approved the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill 2018, which will allow for DNA profiling, on Wednesday.
This bill, which allows law enforcement agencies to collect DNA samples and create databanks for future investigations, is the newest version of DNA profiling bills that have been in discussion for a while.
The final version of the bill seeks to expand the application of DNA-based forensic technologies in order to strengthen the country’s justice system. Using DNA testing for forensics while trying to solve crimes has been a widely practiced in many parts of the world.
Critics of the bill have cited privacy concerns and argued that information from DNA samples is susceptible to misuse and manipulation.
The bill, however, makes provisions for the mandatory accreditation and regulation of DNA laboratories across the country. It seeks to ensure that DNA test results are reliable, while maintaining data protection measures that hope to prevent misuse.
The use of DNA technology in India has also seen support from civil society bodies. A PIL filed by NGO Lokniti Foundation in 2012 brought up the fact that India lacks a national DNA database. It suggested that this could address the problem of unclaimed dead bodies in the country, which number in thousands each year.
The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill accounts for this problem and makes provisions for the cross-matching of DNA between persons reported missing and unidentified dead bodies that are found. It also hopes to help identify those who are affected by mass disasters.
The bill also creates a DNA Profiling Board, which will be the authority with the final say on the creation of databanks at both the state level and the national level. In addition to this, it will approve and oversee the methods used to collect and analyse this data.