DNA Bill can be misused, flags draft report

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News: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology has flagged the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill,2019.

Facts:

  • DNA Technology Regulation Bill,2019: The bill provides for the regulation of use of DNA technology for establishing the identity of certain persons.
              Key Provision of the Bill            Objections Raised 
DNA Data Bank: The Bill provides for the establishment of a National DNA Data Bank and Regional DNA Data Banks for every state, or two or more states.  Every Data Bank will be required to maintain indices for the following categories of data: (i) a crime scene index, (ii) a suspects’ or undertrials index (iii) an offenders’ index (iv) a missing persons index and (v) an unknown deceased persons’ index.Sensitive Information: DNA profiles can reveal extremely sensitive information of an individual such as pedigree, skin colour, behaviour, ill­ ness, health status and susceptibility to diseases.
Storing of DNA Data: In the absence of robust data protection legislation, the security of a huge number of DNA profiles that will be placed with the National DNA Data bank and its regional centres is questionable.
DNA Data in Civil matters: The Bill provides that DNA profiles for civil matters will be stored in the data banks but without a clear and separate index.The committee questioned the necessity for storage of such profiles pointing out that this violates the fundamental right to privacy.
DNA Regulatory Board: The Bill 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.
Independent Scrutiny: The committee recommended that independent scrutiny must be done of the proposals to destroy biological samples and remove DNA profiles from the database.
Consent: A 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.Perfunctory Consent: The Bill refers to consent in several provisions but in each of those, a magistrate can easily override consent, thereby in effect, making consent perfunctory.
Removal of DNA Profiles: The bill provides for the removal of DNA profiles of suspects on the filing of a police report or court order and of undertrials on the basis of a court order.Profiles in the crime scene and missing persons’ index will be removed on a written request.The bill should be amended to ensure that if the person has been found innocent his DNA profile, even the crime scene and missing persons index data must be removed immediately.
Offences:The Bill specifies penalties for various offences, including: (i) for disclosure of DNA information or (ii) using DNA samples without authorization.