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DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill 2019
The DNA Technology Regulation Bill seeks to regulate the use and application of DNA technology for the purpose of establishing the identity of specific categories of persons which include offenders, victims, suspects, undertrials, missing individuals and unknown deceased person and related matters.
The bill has the potential of wide application in the justice delivery systems in civil and criminal cases. In case of criminal cases, the bill helps in the investigation of crimes through biological evidence which includes semen evidence in cases of rape, blood evidence in cases of murder cases, saliva evidence in the identification of the source of anonymous threat letters etc. In civil matters, it helps in the investigation related to victims of disasters like air crash, cyclone, etc. It helps in the misuse or improper use of DNA analysis that can harm individuals.
- The bill aims to regulate the laboratories for DNA testing and analysis by providing for their accreditation
- It helps establish national and regional DNA Data Banks to store and maintain DNA profiles and a DNA Regulatory Board for governance
DNA Regulatory Board
The Board will comprise experts in the field of forensic, biological sciences, and legal matters. It will be headed by a secretary-level officer and will have representatives from various police and investigating agencies.
Functions of the Board
- Advising governments on issues related to establishing DNA labs and data banks
- Laying down standards, guidelines, and procedures for the functioning of the labs and banks
- Granting accreditation to DNA labs
- Assisting investigation agencies in the country and outside in criminal matters
- Making recommendations for privacy protection in access, use and analysis of DNA samples
No court will have jurisdiction to entertain a proceeding or suit in matters where the Board is empowered.
DNA Data Bank
The bill provides details to establish a National DNA Data bank and Regional Data Bank for each state or two or more states. The laboratories will have to share DNA data prepared by them with the National and Regional DNA Data Banks. The bank will have to maintain indices for data which includes a crime scene index, a missing suspectsâ€™ index, an offenders index, a missing personâ€™s index and an unknown deceased personsâ€™ index.
A laboratory taking DNA testing will need to obtain accreditation from the Board. The board can revoke accreditation for reasons including failure to:
- Undertake DNA testing
- Comply with conditions attached to the accreditation
Every laboratory should follow standards for quality assurance in case of collection, storing and analysis of DNA samples. After depositing the profile for criminal cases, the laboratory will have to return the sample to the investing officer. In other cases, the sample should be destroyed.
Collection of DNA
When preparing a DNA profile, bodily substances of persons can be collected by investigating authorities. It is essential to obtain consent for collection in specific situations. In the case of arrested individuals , authorities will be required to obtain written consent if the offense carries a punishment of up to seven years. For more than seven years of imprisonment or death, consent is not necessary. Additionally, if the individual is a victim or a relative of a missing person, or a minor or disabled person, the authorities will have to obtain written consent of the victim, or parent, or relative, or guardian of the small or disabled individual. When consent is not provided, the authorities can approach a Magistrate who can order taking the bodily substances of such individuals.
Use of DNA Data
As per the bill, DNA testing is allowed only in case of a few matters that are listed in the Schedule to the Bill. It includes offenses under Indian Penal Code, 1960 and civil matters like paternity suits. The schedule also includes DNA testing for matters which are related to the establishment of individual identity. DNA testing is allowed to facilitate the identification of a person in connection with matters that are listed in the Schedule of the Bill like (a) criminal offenses under the Indian Penal Code where DNA testing is useful for investigating offenses, (b) offenses in special laws relating to immoral trafficking, sex selection, medical termination of pregnancy, civil rights violation, domestic violence and atrocities against ST and SC , (c) civil matters like pedigree issues, paternal disputes, transplantation of human organs, assisted reproductive technologies, immigration/emigration and establishment of individual identity, and (d) cases like identifying unidentified human remains and abandoned children, medical negligence etc.
Protection of Information
The Board ensure that the information relating to DNA profiles, DNA samples and any records thereof, forwarded to, or in custody of, the National DNA Data Bank or the Regional DNA Data Bank or a DNA laboratory or any other person or authority under this Act, are secured and kept confidential.
Removal of Profile
The bill allows the removal of DNA profile through a written request for an individual who is neither a suspect or an offender but whose DNA profile is entered in the crime scene index of the Data Bank.
For offenses like unauthorised disclosure, obtaining, use and access of DNA samples or results, there will be imprisonment up to three years and a fine up to Rs.1 lakh. Destruction, contamination, alteration or tampering with biological evidence will lead to five years of imprisonment and a fine up to Rs.2 lakh.
The exact release from the Government of India can be accessed below:
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