Source: Indian Express
GS-3: concern associated with technologies.
Synopsis: DNA Technology (Use and Application) Bill, 2019 has many concerns over its use when implemented. So, it is necessary to debate the effects before finalizing the Bill.
- The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science, Technology, Environment, Forests, and Climate Change was tasked to review the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Bill, 2019.
- In its final report, it acknowledged that the use of technologies in the criminal justice system is important. Yet, it cautioned that it should not violate the constitutional right of privacy.
- The report has also raised concerns over the creation of a national database of genetic profiles gathered at crime scenes.
What are the concerns raised by the committee?
The committee has raised the following concerns in The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Bill, 2019. These concerns need to be debated extensively in the parliament before the bill’s finalization.
- First, many countries in the world collect Genetic Information of Persons unrelated to the crime. It is a violation of their Privacy.
- Prosecution agencies collect Flakes of skin, strands of hair, drops of blood and saliva from the crime scene. This helps the Prosecution agencies to validate the identity of an individual.
- However, many times the footprints collected at a crime scene may not necessarily be of those individuals associated with the incident.
- Hence, the DNA repository proposed by the Bill should exclude the information of the people who have nothing to do with the crime.
- Second, a lack of infrastructure will lead to undesired outcomes.
- India is lacking the infrastructure for conducting DNA tests in the country. According to the Committee, the labs in the country can fulfil only 2-3 per cent of the country’s DNA profiling.
- Third, India’s criminal justice system is not ready for the use of DNA technology. Already, India’s justice system lacks a legal aid system especially for the marginalized sections of society.
- Most people charged with criminal offences are not aware of their rights. This deficit will widen when technology, such as DNA profiling, is deployed to establish the crime.
- Also, proper training is required for educating a range of criminal justice functionaries. (police, lawyers, magistrates). Then only this technology can be used effectively.
The parliament before deciding the features of the DNA Technology Bill should recall the verdict in Malak Singh v State of Punjab. Then supreme court Judge O Chinnappa Reddy remarked that, though organised crime needs close surveillance it may not be permitted as it infringes the fundamental right to personal liberty.