[Polity] DNA Profiling Bill: Features,Applications,Criticism

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Mitrapal Philosophy
  1. What is DNA profiling?
  2. Why DNA profiling?
  3. Real life Application: Pune Blast
  4. DNA Profiling India vs China+USA?
  5. Salient Features of DNA profiling Bill
  6. Structure
  7. Anti-Arguments
  8. Suggestions
  9. Timeline
  10. Mock Questions

What is DNA profiling?

  • It involves collection of a few skin cells, muscle tissues, a hair root or a tiny amount of blood or saliva etc. body fluids.
  • Then, DNA strands are extracted from the sample.
  • DNA profiling is useful for solving crimes, confirming if people are related to each other, paternity testing, identifying dead bodies, missing persons etc.

Why DNA profiling?

  • DNA profiling = best method to identify a person.
  • DNA can be collected from body fluids, hair or even from a wine glass or spoon you just used.
  • An individual gets 50% of one’s DNA from each of one’s parents= can be be used to identify parents, siblings and relatives of an individual.
  • Can help to trace people who are suspected of committing a crime.
  • Can exonerate (free) the suspects who are innocent.
  • An individual punished by the court can demand DNA testing to prove his innocence.

Real life Application: Pune Blast

  • Delhi police has taken blood samples of Indian Mujahideen operatives of Pune Blast.
  • On the other side, Pune Police has collected DNA samples from the apartment in Pune where they were living prior to the blast. Example toothbrushes and shoes used by the operatives and even strands of hair.
  • This is a common method adopted by the police forces in the US and other countries to prove a suspect’s involvement in a crime.

DNA Profiling India vs China+USA?

  • CBI has sent a letter urging Government to pass the DNA profiling bill quickly, citing following reasons:
ChinaIndia
Police DNA Laboratories~280~6
DNA profiles~53 lakh DNA profilesLolz, yet to pass the bill.
  • Similarly  Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), USA already has ~10 million DNA profiles.

Salient Features of DNA profiling Bill

  • provides for a national database of DNA profiles.
  • This”DNA database” will be used for
  1. crime detection
  2. as an evidence in judicial proceedings for admissibility of evidence
Bill legalises collection and analysis of the DNA samples for

  1. Repeat offenders,
  2. suspects,
  3. missing persons,
  4. unknown deceased persons
  5. “volunteers” for forensic purposes.
  • DNA profiling in cases related to
  1. murder
  2. miscarriage (abortion),
  3. dowry deaths
  4. sexual assault
  5. paternity suits (like N.D.Tewari) etc.
  • Using these profiles, Bill creates indexes within every databank including: crime scene indexes, suspects index, offender’s index, missing persons index, unknown deceased persons’ index, volunteers’ index etc. This will help searching particular entery very quickly.
  • The DNA profile of an individual will be deleted if that person were to be acquitted after the trial.
  • DNA profiles can be shared with other countries for cases related to terrorism, narcotics, illegal human organ sale etc.

Structure

The Bill establishes following organizations:

DNA Profiling Board @National and State levels.
  • To laydown laboratory standards
  • procedures for collection analysis of DNA samples etc.
  • Will be headed by molecular biologists+ members from legal, police, biology etc fields.
National DNA Data Bank
  • State DNA labs will collect samples and feed the data to National DNA Database= can be accessed anywhere. Help to solve inter-state crime.

Anti-Arguments

While the DNA profiling bill aims to modernize the crime detection and conviction, the experts give following arguments against the bill.

Doesn’t increase crime-detection

When UK police created DNA database, did not help to solve more crimes, despite millions of profiles being added to the database.

Misuse for Caste identification

  • DNA can reveal very personal information about an individual, including medical history, family history and location.
  • This database could be used to create DNA databases of different caste populations of India.
  • The Working group of 11th Five Year plan said DNA profiling technology could be used to study Human population of different castes in India.

Assumption

caste is an immutable genetic trait.

Problem

It ignores the fact that individuals change their caste and that caste is not uniformly passed on in marriage.

Misuse

the experts and NGOs fear that in long term, such “caste DNA”  database could be misused, for example
  1. Asking every person for DNA test, before granting him/her caste certificates.
  2. Instead of conventional population survey, Government could use DNA profiles for “Extrapolating” statistics and then increase/decrease reservation for a particular category in particular state.
  3. Excluding a particular caste or a group of people from reservation benefits.
  4. Screening potential suspects on basis of caste.  Can be used to brand certain individuals and communities as people with ‘criminal traits’, just like Britishers had  branded  certain tribes of Northern and Central India as ‘criminal tribes’ in past.
  5. knowledge of an individual’s exact social background can damage the institution of an arranged marriage.
  • Furthermore, using caste for forensic purposes and to develop DNA databases could far too easily be abused and result in the profiling of individuals, and identification errors.

Mistake is possible

Assumption

DNA evidence is infallible (100% full proof)

Problem

Bill ignores the possibility of false matches, cross-contamination, and laboratory error.

For example

  1. Aarushi murder case
forensic expert who testified failed to remember which samples were collected at the scene of the crime!
  1. French diplomat rape case
DNA report came out with both negative and positive results!
  1. Abhishek rape case
DNA sample had to be reanalysed after initial analysis did not prove conclusive.
  • Yet the Bill does not mandate a set of best practices that could help in minimising these errors.

Evidence Tempering

  • Ideally court order should be necessary if a private citizen wishes to see the DNA database.
  • But here, the DNA Data Bank Manager is empowered to grant access to any person or Government agency that he considers appropriate!
  • This can lead to tampering of evidence in case of high profile cases involving VVIP criminals and politicians. Thus leading to conviction of innocent person and or exoneration of real criminal.
  • Although DNA Profiling Bill, provides penalties for misuse of data : jail up to three years and a fine of up to 10,000.

Suggestions

  • DNA profiling should be done only for serious crimes and not minor offenses.
  • Destruction of DNA samples once a DNA profile is created.
  • Clearly defining when a court order is needed to collect DNA samples,
  • defining when consent is required and is not required from the individual for a DNA sample to be taken
  • ensuring that the individual has a right of appeal.
Timeline
2007
  • draft Human DNA Profiling Bill was made public
  • but it had many shortcomings, led to lot of opposition from NGOs, activists etc. hence this bill was never introduced in parliament.
  • Then Govt. asked Department of Biotechnology + Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) Hyderabad, to update the 2007 Bill.
2010
  • Tamil Nadu State Governmnt sought to amend the Prisoners Identification Act 1920 to allow for the establishment of a prisoners’ DNA database
2012
  • DNA data bank for armed forces personnel is setup. It’ll help identification of mutiliated dead bodies during war etc. This is unique as so far only USA and Israel have such facilities.
  • Uttar Pradesh government ordered mandatory sampling for DNA fingerprinting of dead bodies.
Feb 2012New version of bill leaked.Bill is sent to various ministries for their comment and feedback.
Dec 2012CBI writes letter to Government, to quickly pass this bill.

Mock Questions

  1. What is DNA profiling? List its applications. (12 marks)
  2. Write a note on the Salient features of Draft DNA profiling Bill. (10 marks)
  3. Ethical issues involved in DNA profiling. What is your personal view on them? (Interview).

Mrunal recommends

  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books 4 History,Geo,Sci
  2. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  3. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  4. Maths: Quantam CAT Sarvesh Kumar
  5. Objective General English SP Bakshi
  6. Word Power made Easy -Norman Lowe
  7. Topic wise Solved Paperset by Disha

47 Comments on “[Polity] DNA Profiling Bill: Features,Applications,Criticism”

  1. thanx for such a beautiful and easy to understand article.

  2. Thanks Mrunal with yet another excellent article(YAEA) :)
    An important fact is that 99.9% of human DNA sequences are the same in every person, only 0.01% distinguishes us all.

  3. Mrunal Sir…U r the best:)

  4. NICE ARTICLE……..THANKS SIR.

  5. very applied and simple………..its great

  6. Sir , plz provide an article on issues related to Biotechnology ; BRAI bill ,ethinic issues, regulatory bodies in this domain like NBA, GEAC. Dept. of biotech etc.

      1. @partho-brother leave your email next as i read your answer on world press.com about ir so m keen interested to interact with you thanks.

  7. hi mrunal

    what type of right is ” right to vote” ??

  8. Nice Article…thanx

  9. Dear Sir,
    This article was once again an awesome and commendable job. Thanx

    But somehow, i could not understand – “caste is an immutable genetic trait”
    how can we predict someone’s caste using DNA??

    Please help out. Anyone out there i think can help me out, because i think i am not aware of this fact.

    Regards
    Abhishek

    1. First of all keep in mind that ur DNA contain no info as of ur caste,race,family background or susceptibility of committing crime etc etc.
      It all has to do with existing DNA database.
      So let us see how much a database(it may also contain database from fossils excavated from various sites, like harappa) is important and how could it be used to study ur caste,family background etc.
      First ur DNA sample is collected and mapped. Then it is matched with existing database.
      If ur DNA is is matching with say 100 samples , then it is more or less confirm that u belong to them.
      Your DNA can also show whether u are Dravidian , Aryan or any other race(by comparing ur sample with the existing samples of these races).
      For ex. If ur sample is matching with Alexander’s family then u must be a descendant of Alexander’s family( I hope u have seen Vicky donor!)
      So the crux is just by collecting a simple sample from u, we can tell ur family background, caste, crime susceptibility, where are u from, to which caste ur great great grandfather belong to etc etc etc.
      Hope it cleared ur doubt.

      1. even the BJP leader subhramanyam swami dictates hidus to only this holy land of india thats why bjp politician treats muslims outsider or ask them that they all belongs to hindus ancestors.
        thats why as mrunal narrated it may definitely lead a COMMUNAL RIOT OR ETHICAL POLTICS.

        1. Subramaniam swamy is notfrom BJP . He is from Janata Party

        2. [email protected] when muslims are frm outside of india then where da hindus r frm???
          [ they r from aryan decendancy belongs to central asia ] so why to have useless discussion when we believe dat this is our country
          then we automaticaly belongs to india nd we love our nation

  10. Excellent piece of work Mrunal!
    I being in profession of Biotech research know that its worth trusting technology..but the DNA labs should be strictly auditable (for human resource, instruments, and most imp record keeping) by an external agency to be assured for quality & the database must be used for investigation purpose only because caste DNA profiling is unethical.

  11. Excellent info at one place! Thanks Sir!
    Sir, could you please suggest some best books or any other sources to prepare for
    1. Data Interpretation(DI)in Prelims
    2. Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc. in Prelims
    3. General Science in Prelims
    4. and Statistics in Mains ?

    1. @jaynishha- i think DI question is not so hard as my experience i did 9th ,10th maths & some problems from various question papers and now most of the time these problems are in my under reach area. so you may follow the same.
      2- economy related i would suggest only newspaper (both hindu &express) are source of tremendous knowledge for being zero to be wikipedia. right now i am not wikipedia but i able to understand most of the issues and cold write 100-200 words in a emphasized manner .so you too may follow .
      3 science -god knows what the source for it people suggest the hindu but i wouldnt get it how can some body cram so much of info.(may be notes making is answer )but i think its just a matter of common sense if luck favours you in exam hall then you could solve such problem and even they are quite handible also if you had followed newspaper religously .
      4-as far myself for this section i solved past year question and took my some iitian friend as m a art backround student .
      a candidate who awaiting for his mains result.

    2. @jaynishha- i think DI question is not so hard as my experience i did 9th ,10th maths & some problems from various question papers and now most of the time these problems are in my under reach area. so you may follow the same.
      2- economy related i would suggest only newspaper (both hindu &express) are source of tremendous knowledge for being zero to be a wikipedia. right now i am not wikipedia but i able to understand most of the issues and cold write 100-200 words in a emphasized manner .so you too may follow .
      3 science -god knows what the source for it people suggest the hindu but i wouldnt get it how can some body cram so much of info.(may be notes making is answer )but i think its just a matter of common sense if luck favours you in exam hall then you could solve such problem and even they are quite handible also if you had followed newspaper religously .
      4-as far myself for this section i solved past year question and took my some iitian friend as m a art backround student .
      a candidate who awaiting for his mains result.

      1. Thanks camdidate!

  12. How is caste determined through DNA??

    1. a doctor can find similar genes present in those of a particular caste which are unique to it and thus establish that such genetic combination occurs only in this particular caste . This has been the basis of the theories of racial superiority like that of Hitler however science has already proved that there is no scientific basis for such claims.

  13. its not edutainment… i doubt whether mrunal wrote this???

  14. hello sir,
    i am preparing for state PSC exams. Am working and invested small amount in trade. My question is can i do such profit making business before i become a collector

  15. Well explained.Thank you very much.

  16. can anybody pls say ,what type of right is ” right to vote” ??

    1. it is a constitutional right under article 326

  17. can anybody say ,what type of right is ” right to vote” ??

  18. can anybody pls say ,what type of right is right to vote.

  19. Thanks, would help write ans.

  20. what is public account of india

  21. Dear sir, plz descibe the topic “Constitution Amendment Bill that provides quotas for SCs and STs in Government Job Promotions passed by RS.”

  22. i still didnt get caste factor in this discussion?? we have thousands of castes approx. six thousand. so it means all caste r genetically differ from each other? how ? and why so? i dont hav bio background. plz explain in simple language.

  23. Does DNA is present in Human Urine and Feces ??

    Answer:

    In Feces:

    There are a lot of old dead red blood cells and bacteria, as well as fats and other miscellaneous proteins. So it can be done. A stool DNA test is a new approach for colon cancer screening. A stool DNA test is designed to identify recognizable DNA changes (DNA markers) in cells that are continually shed from the lining of the colon through stool.

    In Urine:

    Urine is not considered an ideal source of DNA due to the low concentration of nucleated cells present in human urine. The nucleated cells found in urine are typically white blood cells and epithelial cells. There are large differences between the amount of epithelial cells present in male and female urine. Females are more likely to have a higher number of epithelial cells present in their urine, vaginal cells being the chief contributors. The need for the use of urine as an identification tool may arise from a crime scene, or in a toxicology laboratory. At a crime scene, urine may be used to identify the perpetrator of a crime, or to place a victim at a particular site.

  24. Wonderful article… U rock !

  25. I wonder if Mrunal is really a human or a walking encyclopaedia!!!!!

  26. Thanks.
    Wonderful Article.

  27. what wil be components of DNA databank….how it relate to caste..pls describe in detail.?

  28. @vignesh

    Legal Right.

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