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DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill 2019

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019:


Context:

Leaders of All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) and CPI have filed dissent notes to the parliamentary standing committee’s report on the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019 on the following grounds:

  1. The bill does not take into account their concerns over privacy violations.
  2. If enacted, the Bill will target Dalits, Muslims and Adivasis by way of DNA sample collection and indefinite storage.

What are the main concerns and issues wrt to the bill?

The Bill proposes DNA sampling and profiling of citizens accused of crime or reported missing, and storing their unique genetic information for administrative purposes.

The fear is that:

  1. The law could be used for caste or community-based profiling.
  2. The Bill runs afoul with the standards set in the Puttaswamy and Subramanian Swamy judgments of the Supreme Court.
  3. In the absence of a statutory framework protecting the right to privacy, this Bill will cause irreversible damage to individuals’ right to privacy as well as the criminal justice system.
  4. Without adequate statutory safeguard to protect against the opacity of the law on the sort of information being collected and its unrestricted usage for a variety of purposes this law is susceptible to future misuse and abuse.

Highlights of the Bill:

  1. As per the Bill, national and regional DNA data banks will be set up for maintaining a national database for identification of victims, suspects in cases, undertrials, missing persons and unidentified human remains.
  2. Punishment: Those leaking the DNA profile information to people or entities who are not entitled to have it, will be punished with a jail term of up to three years and a fine of up to Rs. 1 lakh.
  3. Usage: As per the bill, all DNA data, including DNA profiles, DNA samples and records, will only be used for identification of the person and not for “any other purpose”.
  4. The bill’s provisions will enable the cross-matching between persons who have been reported missing on the one hand and unidentified dead bodies found in various parts of the country on the other, and also for establishing the identity of victims in mass disasters.
  5. The Bill establishes a DNA Regulatory Board to accredit the DNA laboratories that analyse DNA samples to establish the identity of an individual.

evidence

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is DNA?
  2. Differences between DNA and RNA.
  3. What is a gene?
  4. Highlights of DNA Bill.

Mains Link:

The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill is right in intent but bereft of safeguards, can be misutilized. Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.