Govt to table DNA Profiling Bill in Monsoon session

Published - May 01, 2018 06:21 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The government on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that it will introduce a DNA profiling Bill in the Monsoon Session of the Parliament.

The government was responding to a PIL filed by NGO Lok Niti Foundation in 2012 on the use of DNA profiling for idenitifying unclaimed bodies, especially to match them with cold cases of missing persons.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra recorded the submission made by Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, for the government, and observed that the Centre should take steps as expeditiously as possible.

The court said that with the competent authority undertaking to bring about a legislation there was no need for a mandamus from the Supreme Court in this issue.

However, counsel for the NGO urged the court to keep the matter pending as the government has been promising a law since 2007. The court said the petitioner was free to move the apex court in case of any future grievances.

Last year, the Law Commission of India, in its 271st report, prepared the draft Bill named The DNA Based Technology (Use and Regulation) Bill, 2017 after examining various judicial pronouncements and constitutional provisions.

The exercise was initiated by the Commission after the Department of Biotechnology forwarded its draft of 'The Use and Regulation of DNA based Technology in Civil and Criminal Proceedings, Identification of Missing Persons and Human Remains Bill, 2016'.

The Commission recorded that DNA profiling was indeed used for disaster victim identification, investigation of crimes, identification of missing persons and human remains and for medical research purposes.

It however had also flagged that privacy concerns and the ethics involved in this scientific collection of data was very high.

The Commission said the procedure for DNA profiling, if given statutory recognition, should be done legitimately as per constitutional provisions.

Primarily, the Bill provides for the setting up of a statutory DNA Profiling Board to spell out procedures and standards to establish DNA laboratories and grant of accreditation to these labs.

The Board should also be tasked with advising the Centre and the State governments on the operation of these labs and ethical/human rights issues relating to DNA testing in consonance with international standards. The Board should also have the responsibility to supervise, monitor, inspect and assess the laboratories.

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