Cabinet Approves DNA Technology Regulation Bill
The utility of DNA based technologies for solving crimes, and to identify missing persons, is well recognized. To expand the application of DNA-based forensic technologies to support and strengthen the justice delivery system of the country, the Union Cabinet recently approved The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill 2018.
By providing for the mandatory accreditation and regulation of DNA laboratories, the Bill seeks to ensure that with the proposed expanded use of this technology in the country, there is also the assurance that the DNA test results are reliable and the data remain protected from misuse or abuse in terms of the privacy rights of citizens. It is also seen as a step forward towards speedier justice delivery and improving the conviction rate.
The Bill’s provisions will enable the cross-matching between persons who have been reported missing and unidentified dead bodies found in various parts of the country, and for establishing the identity of victims in mass disasters.
Forensic DNA profiling is of proven value in solving cases involving offences categorized as affecting the human body (such as murder, rape, human trafficking, or grievous hurt), and those against property (including theft, burglary, and dacoity). The aggregate incidence of such crimes in the country, as per National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2016, is in excess of 3 lakhs per year. Of these, only a small proportion is subjected to DNA testing at present. It is expected that the expanded use of this technology in these cases would result not only in speedier justice, but also in increased conviction rates, which at present is only around 30% (NCRB Statistics for 2016).
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