Govt to revise bill on DNA profiling

Govt to revise bill on DNA profiling

Around 40,000 unidentified bodies found in the country annually could be identified and traced back to their families in the future as the Centre is going to present a revised draft of the Human DNA Profiling Bill in the Budget session of Parliament after its approval by the Cabinet.

However, the country would face a major challenge in the form of 800 to 1,000 DNA technical examiners in view of current availability of just 30 to 40 experts in the forensic DNA laboratories for its 1,200 million population.

The affidavit submitted by the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, before the Supreme Court stated that the Bill has been modified as per the recommendation of an expert committee headed by T S Rao.

“The effective operationalisation of DNA profiling activities need necessary statutory backing in the shape of provisions of a Parliament enacted law and regulations which would be framed by DNA Profiling Board once Bill is enacted by Parliament,” it said.

In response to the apex court’s direction in a PIL filed by an NGO — Lokniti Foundation — the expert committee met on November 10 and recommended in the draft Bill for creating a data bank of DNA profiles of several categories of individuals.

The Bill will grant legislative sanction to the government for formulating, approving and implementing the rules and regulations for creation, maintenance and operation of the DNA data bank and the protocols for DNA profiling.

Besides, it envisaged developing the protocols to ensure appropriate use of biological samples and address the logistical and operational constraints for establishment of the DNA data bank across states.

“DNA profiling is a complex technology and also requires the creation of a DNA data bank to store and compare the DNA profiles of the deceased with those of their relatives.

These activities need appropriate regulations to prevent the misuse of the samples and the DNA profiles, which can be achieved by the provisions enshrined in the draft Human DNA Profiling Bill,” it said.

However, the cost of identifying bodies across the country in a year is estimated to be around Rs 80 crore, according to an estimate given by the Centre for DNA, Fingerprinting and Diagonostic, Hyderabad, it added.

“It is financially very resource intensive as on an average at current costs, it requires Rs 20,000 per case. For every year, one or two skeletal remains and one or two blood samples from the relatives or personal articles need to be DNA profiled,” the government said.

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