Cabinet Approves Bill for Setting up DNA Data Banks to Store Profiles

DNA data banks will be set up for maintaining a national database for identification of victims, suspects in cases and on trial, missing persons and unidentified human remains.

New Delhi: The Union cabinet yesterday gave its nod to a Bill which seeks to set up DNA data banks across India to store profiles and also provides for a jail term of up to three years to those who leak the information stored in such facilities.

The Bill also states that all DNA data, including DNA profiles, DNA samples and records, will only be used for identification of the person and not for “any other purpose,” official sources said.

It will be introduced in parliament during the Monsoon Session beginning July 18, they said.

The Bill, based on the one prepared by the Law Commission recently, says that national and regional DNA data banks will be set up for maintaining a national database for identification of victims, suspects in cases, undertrials, missing persons and unidentified human remains.

According to it, those leaking the DNA profile information to people or entities who are not entitled to have it, will be punished with a jail term of up to three years and a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh.

Similar, punishment has also been provided for those who seek the information on DNA profiles illegally.

The government had recently informed the Supreme Court that the bill for DNA profiling to enable maintenance of records of unidentified and unclaimed bodies or missing persons, is likely to be brought in the upcoming session of Parliament.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud considered the statement made by additional solicitor general Pinky Anand, appearing for the Centre, saying the government should take steps “as expeditiously as possible”.

The court was hearing a PIL stating that India did not have a national DNA database to address the issue of thousands of unclaimed bodies that are reported annually.

It had suggested maintaining of DNA profiles of the bodies before their disposal which could help in their identification by the family members.

“The primary intended purpose for enactment of the DNA-Based Technology (Use and Regulation) Bill, 2018 is for expanding the application of DNA-based forensic technologies to support and strengthen the justice delivery system of the country,” an official statement said.

The Bill’s provisions will enable the cross-matching between persons who have been reported missing on the one hand and unidentified dead bodies found in various parts of the country on the other, and also for establishing the identity of victims in mass disasters, it said.