The Debate around India's DNA Bills

India Feb 25, 2021

The DNA technology has been functioning from the past 15 years from now. Almost 60 countries have ratified similar legislation, when the US brought it up in 1994. The DNA Technology (Use and application) Regulation bill was introduced by the Union Minister of Science and Technology in Lok Sabha in July, 2019. It’s sole purpose was for the expansion in the application of DNA-based forensic technologies in society as it would strengthen the justice delivery system of the country involving utilisation of DNA based technology to solve heinous crimes and find missing people. The other advantage of this technology is the identification of deceased persons in another part of the world. The proposed legislation can strengthen the criminal justice delivery system by authorising the DNA application which is to be considered as the Golden standard in criminal investigation.

The standing committee pointed out the flaws behind the bill with respect to the breaching privacy of an individual. AIMIM (All Indian Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Musleem) president Asaduddin Owaisi and CPI leader Binoy Viswam added to it stating that it would target the Dalit, Muslim and Adivasis through the sample collection of DNA and the indefinite storage according to the legislation. The genetic information of  accused citizens or the ones reported missing is used for administrative purposes under this bill. But this also invokes a fear that the law can be used for caste or community based profiling. Mr. Owaisi mentioned in his dissent note that even while the finalised Draft Report concedes the prospective danger of indexing the profiles of non-convicts, chiefly the suspects, it still contains objectionable services. As per the the records of Indian Criminal justice system the crime data reveals the disproportion among the locked up Dalit, Muslim and Adivasis. To this he added that if the bill is passed that would compute the targeted discrimination into the law. With no presence of a permitted framework for the protection of rights to privacy, the bill can be a source of irremediable harm to the privacy rights of an individual as well as the criminal justice system.

Mr. Ramesh countered Mr. Owaisi’s concern in a letter as a part of the report stated that the bill was not  at all embracing but was instead limited  to the regulatory board in concord with international standards. Mr.Viswam pitched in his dissent note that with improper safety against the opaqueness of the law on the type of information being collected along with its vivid purpose of usage, the law is much likely to carry issues in future or some sort of abuse. He also added that the impact this law would cast on the Adivasis, Muslims and religious, gender minority was something he would not support.

Are these Bills biased?

This article has been written by Alina Fonseca for The Paradigm

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