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

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  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:
China India
Police DNA Laboratories ~280 ~6
DNA profiles ~53 lakh DNA profiles Lolz, 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 real canadian viagra 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. comprare levitra online sicuro Abruzzo Aarushi murder case
forensic expert who testified failed to remember which samples were collected at the scene of the crime!
  1. click here French diplomat rape case
DNA report came out with both negative and positive results!
  1. viagra generico prezzo a Bologna 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 2012 New version of bill leaked.Bill is sent to various ministries for their comment and feedback.
Dec 2012 CBI 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).
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47 Comments on “[Polity] DNA Profiling Bill: Features,Applications,Criticism”

  1. Thanks.
    Wonderful Article.

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

  3. @vignesh

    Legal Right.

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