Human DNA Profiling Bill in India

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Human DNA Profiling Bill is a proposed legislation in India. The bill will allow the government to establish a National DNA Data Bank and a DNA Profiling Board, and use the data for various specified forensic purposes.

DNA profiling (also called DNA fingerprinting, DNA testing, or DNA typing) is a forensic technique used to identify individuals by characteristics of their DNA.

A DNA profile is a small set of DNA variations that is very likely to be different in all unrelated individuals, thereby being as unique to individuals as are fingerprints (hence the alternative name for the technique).

The bill has raised concerns of privacy among citizen rights groups. The bill was expected to be presented in the parliament sson.

The bill was originally proposed in 2007 and in 2012 drafting of the bill began. The draft bill was prepared by the Department of Biotechnology.

The bill proposes to form a National DNA Data Bank and a DNA Profiling Board, and use the data for various specified purposes.

The proposed DNA Profiling Board will consist of molecular biology, human genetics, population biology, bioethics, social sciences, law and criminal justice experts.

The Board will define standards and controls for DNA profiling. It will also certify labs and handle access of the data by law enforcement agencies. There will be similar bodies at state levels.

The bill will also create a National DNA Data Bank, which will collect data from offenders, suspects, missing persons, unidentified dead bodies and volunteers.

It will profile and store DNA data in criminal cases like homicide, sexual assault, adultery and other crimes. The data will be restricted and will be available only to the accused or the suspect.

A person facing imprisonment or death sentence can send a request for DNA profiling of related evidence to the court that convicted him.

The bill has the provision that any misuse of data will carry a punishment of up to three years imprisonment and also fine.

DNA profiling should not be confused with full genome sequencing. First developed and used in 1984, DNA profiling is used in, for example, parentage testing and criminal investigation, to identify a person or to place a person at a crime scene, techniques which are now employed globally in forensic science to facilitate police detective work and help clarify paternity and immigration disputes.

DNA fingerprinting has also been widely used in the study of animal and floral populations and has revolutionized the fields of zoology, botany, and agriculture.

Although 99.9% of human DNA sequences are the same in every person, enough of the DNA is different that it is possible to distinguish one individual from another, unless they are monozygotic (“identical”) twins.

DNA profiling uses repetitive (“repeat”) sequences that are highly variable, called variable number tandem repeats (VNTRs), in particular short tandem repeats (STRs), also known as microsatellites, and minisatellites. VNTR loci are very similar between closely related individuals, but are so variable that unrelated individuals are extremely unlikely to have the same VNTRs.

The modern process of DNA profiling was developed in 1984 by Sir Alec Jeffreys while working in the Department of Genetics at the University of Leicester.

Background:

Recently, the Indian Supreme Court was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Lokniti Foundation on this issue. The PIL stated that India does not have a national DNA database to address the issue of thousands of unclaimed dead bodies that are reported annually. It had suggested that maintaining of the DNA profiles of the bodies before their disposal could help in their identification by the family members.

In response to this, Indian government Additional Solicitor General, P.S.Narasimha informed the court that the legislative process is in progress to bring in a Human DNA Profiling Bill to enable the authorities to maintain records of unidentified and unclaimed dead bodies or missing persons.

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