Law panel for strict confidentiality of DNA data

Law panel for strict confidentiality of DNA data

Law panel for strict confidentiality of DNA data
The Law Commission has recommended “strict confidentiality” in dealing with records of DNA profiling and said such profiling should be done exclusively for identification of a person.

Violators of a  proposed law would be punished with a  maximum jail term of three years and fine of up to Rs 2 lakh, it said.

With a view to frame a legislation for the use and regulation of DNA-based technology in civil and criminal cases, and identification of missing persons and human remains, the Department of Biotechnology proposed a draft Bill titled “The Use and Regulation of DNA-based Technology in Civil and Criminal Proceedings, Identification of Missing Persons and Human Remains Bill, 2016”.

Right to privacy

The panel, headed by Justice B S Chauhan, examined the draft Bill, which was forwarded to it in September 2016 for guidance. It noted that the bill, despite criticism, intended to protect the right to privacy. The privacy issue is also being examined by the Supreme Court’s nine-judge bench to decide if it can be declared a fundamental right.

Under the proposed law, a DNA profiling board would be constituted to undertake functions such as laying down procedures and standards to establish DNA laboratories and granting accreditation. The board would also advise on ethical and human rights issues connected with it in accordance with international guidelines, the panel said in its 271st report.

“There shall be a national DNA Data Bank, and regional DNA Data Banks for the states, to be established by the centre. The data banks will be responsible for storing DNA profiles received from the accredited laboratories and maintaining certain indices for various categories of data, like crime scene index, suspects‟ index, offenders index, missing persons index and unknown deceased persons index,” the panel said.

“Appropriate regulations may be notified by the Board for entry, retention and expunction of DNA profiles,” it added. DNA fingerprinting has been useful for law enforcement, as it has been used to exonerate the innocent. Unlike blood found at a crime scene, DNA material remains usable for an endless period of time.
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