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DNA Bill, 2019

  • 01 Nov 2019
  • 4 min read

Why in News?

Recently, the scope for violations of privacy in the proposed DNA data bank was discussed by a parliamentary panel on the contentious DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019.

Key Highlights

  • The Bill provides for the establishment of a National DNA Data Bank and Regional DNA Data Banks for states.
    • DNA laboratories are required to share DNA data with the National and Regional DNA Data Banks.
    • Every Data Bank will be required to maintain indices for the following categories of data-
      • a crime scene index
      • a suspects’ or undertrials’ index
      • an offenders’ index
      • a missing persons’ index
      • an unknown deceased persons’ index
  • It aims to store the unique genetic information for administrative purposes.
  • It also provides for the establishment of a DNA Regulatory Board, which will supervise the DNA Data Banks and DNA laboratories.
  • The Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, will be the ex officio Chairperson of the board and the additional members will be-
    • experts in the field of biological sciences
    • Director General of the National Investigation Agency
    • Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation

Concerns

  • Threat of data Hacking: After the incident of malware infection at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant there is a risk of this sensitive data bank being hacked.
  • Violation of Human Rights: DNA can play an important role in solving the crimes but it also puts human rights at stake. It can lead to misuse and miscarriages of justice.
  • Not Cost Effective: Creating large databases is not a very budget friendly option with limited resources.
  • Inadequate Resources: Currently, laboratories are able to assess only one or two samples at a time. This results in delayed investigations.
  • Possibility of misuse of DNA samples: Through DNA, not only the identity of a person can be known but also other characteristics like if she/he is suffering from any disease etc. There is a possibility that people having access to DNA samples, blackmail the person who has submitted his/her DNA sample.
  • Single Use: Bill envisages the use of a DNA sample for a particular specified purpose only. For any other purpose, the DNA sample will have to be processed again.

Way Forward

  • Modernisation of Technology: It will help process around 40 to 50 samples at a time which will in the quick resolution of various cases and thus will strengthen India’s Justice Delivery System.
  • Multiple usage: Use of DNA cannot be restricted to a particular purpose. A series of situations may arise that can demand usage of a DNA sample again and again.
  • Effective implementation: It is required to ensure the proper storage and usage of DNA bills.
  • Securing Human Rights: The authorities need to regulate three broad areas of concern – capacity, training and consent before unleashing the DNA Bill in India.

Source: The Hindu

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