Why in News?
The government recently informed the Supreme Court that it will introduce a DNA profiling Bill in the Monsoon Session of the Parliament.
FACTS FOR PRELIMS
A typical adult has over three billion characteristics in her DNA and only about a dozen characteristics are required for a DNA profiling database. A technique called the Short Tandem Repeat (STR) analysis is most widely used in forensic analysis. Over the last 25 years, most countries have adopted a DNA fingerprinting law and have developed databases for use primarily in a criminal investigation, disaster identification and forensic science.
In 1985, Alec Jeffreys, a genetic researcher at the University of Leicester in the UK, first developed DNA profiling along with Peter Gill and David Werrett of the Forensic Science Service.
The DNA Profiling Bill
The draft DNA Based Technology (Use and Regulation) Bill, 2017 permits processing of DNA samples and puts in place safeguards against the misuse of data. the key features of the draft Bill include:
(i) Only for identification: DNA profiling would be undertaken exclusively for identification of a person and would not be used to extract any other information. Further, no bodily substances will be taken from a person unless consent is given for the same;
(ii) DNA Profiling Board: A DNA Profiling Board will be constituted as a statutory body which will be responsible for supervising, monitoring, inspecting and assessing DNA laboratories;
(iii) DNA Data Bank: The Bill proposes a National DNA Data Bank and Regional DNA Data Banks (for the states). The data banks will be responsible for storing DNA profiles received from the accredited laboratories; and
(iv) Penalties: The violators of the provisions would be liable for imprisonment which may extend up to three years and includes a fine.
The Law Commission of India, in its 271st report, prepared the draft Bill named The DNA Based Technology (Use and Regulation) Bill, 2017 after examining various judicial pronouncements and constitutional provisions.
The Commission recorded that DNA profiling was indeed used for disaster victim identification, investigation of crimes, identification of missing persons and human remains and for medical research purposes.
It, however, had also flagged that privacy concerns and the ethics involved in this scientific collection of data was very high.
The Commission said the procedure for DNA profiling if given statutory recognition, should be done legitimately as per constitutional provisions.