Lok Sabha Passes Dna (Use And Application) Technology Regulation Bill
10, Jan 2019
Prelims level : “Polity-Acts and amendments.” Mains level : GS-2 “Government polices and intervention for the development of Various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.”
- The Lok Sabha passed the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019 by voice vote after a brief discussion.
- It seeks to provide regulation for the use and application of DNA technology for the purpose of establishing the identity of certain category of persons including the victims, offenders, suspects, under trials, missing persons and others.
- The bill also seeks to establish a National DNA Data Bank and Regional DNA Data Banks. The issues of privacy, confidentiality and data protection have been minutely addressed in this legislation.
- Once the bill becomes a law, it will help in the criminal justice system, finding the families of missing children and other purposes.
Provisions of the Bill:
- Use of DNA Technology- The Bill regulates the use of DNA technology for establishing the identity of persons in respect of matters listed in a Schedule. These include criminal matters (such as offences under the Indian Penal Code, 1860), and civil matters such as parentage disputes, emigration or immigration, and transplantation of human organs.
- DNA Banks- The Bill establishes a National DNA Data Bank and Regional DNA Data Banks. DNA Regulatory Board- Every DNA laboratory that analyses a DNA sample to establish the identity of an individual, has to be accredited by the Board.
- Consent- Written consent by individuals is required to collect DNA samples from them. Consent is not required for offences with punishment of more than seven years of imprisonment or death.
- Removal of DNA profiles- DNA profiles in the crime scene index or missing persons’ index will be removed from the DNA Data Banks on the basis of a written request by the individual. The DNA profile of a suspect will be removed after the filing of a police report or as per a court order. In the case of an under-trial, the DNA profile will be removed on the basis of a court order.
Key Issues and Analysis:
- The Schedule lists civil matters where DNA profiling can be used. This includes “issues relating to establishment of individual identity.” DNA testing carried out in medical or research laboratories can be used to identify an individual. It is unclear if the Bill intends to regulate such laboratories.
- The Bill requires consent of the individual when DNA profiling is used in criminal investigations and identifying missing persons. However, consent requirements have not been specified in case of DNA profiling for civil matters.
- DNA laboratories are required to share DNA data with the Data Banks. It is unclear whether DNA profiles for civil matters will also be stored in the Data Banks. Storage of these profiles in the Data Banks may violate the right to privacy.
- DNA laboratories prepare DNA profiles and then share them with DNA Data Banks. The Bill specifies the process by which DNA profiles may be removed from the Data Banks. However, the Bill does not require DNA laboratories to remove DNA profiles. It may be argued that such provisions be included in the Bill and not left to regulations.