“The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill – 2019” was passed by the lower house of the Parliament last week. The Bill has been formulated recognizing the need for regulation of the use and application of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) technology, for establishing identity of missing persons, victims, offenders, under trials and unknown deceased persons and strengthen the justice delivery system of the country. DNA evidence is considered the gold standard in crime investigations.
The Bill seeks to ensure that the DNA test results are reliable, and that the data remain protected from misuse or abuse in terms of the privacy rights of our citizens.
The key components of this Bill include:
- Establishment of a DNA Regulatory Board: Among the various functions envisaged for the DNA Regulatory Board are included: advice the Central Government and the State Governments on all issues relating to establishing of DNA laboratories and DNA Data Banks and grant accreditation to laboratories and to suspend or revoke such accreditation.
- The Board will also 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
- No laboratory shall undertake DNA testing, analysing or any other procedure to generate data and perform analysis relating thereto without obtaining accreditation from the Board.
- Establishment of the National DNA Data Bank and Regional DNA Data Banks or every State, or two or more States, as it may deem necessary to assist in forensic investigations.
- All DNA labs are required to share DNA data prepared and maintained by it with the National DNA Data Bank and the Regional DNA Data Bank.
- Every DNA Data Bank shall maintain the following indices for various categories of data, namely:
o a crime scene index
o a suspects index or undertrials index
o an offenders index
o a missing persons index
o unknown deceased persons index
- The Bill also provides for sharing of DNA profiles with foreign Government or international organization.
There is a provision of penalty for unlawful access to information in DNA Data Bank and also for destruction, alterations, contamination or tampering with biological evidence.
(Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Science & Technology, Jan. 8, 2019)