DNA Technology Bill: Why the Standing Committee Has Its Work Cut Out

[Co-authored with Murali Neelakantan]

With a decade-long history of deliberations, the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill 2018 is no stranger to the halls of Parliament. It is currently being scrutinised by the Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology, after it was reintroduced in the Lok Sabha earlier this year.

The Bill seeks to regulate DNA laboratories and proposes to establish a DNA databank, although there are already many unregulated DNA databases with various authorities. There seems to be widespread support for use of DNA evidence, primarily on the understanding that (i) it is “new scientific technology” used widely around the world; (ii) India needs modern weapons to fight crime; and (iii) similar laws exist in other countries, including the US, the UK, Ireland and South Africa, for helping convict criminals and acquit innocent persons.

However, there are three broad areas of concern – capacity, training and consent – that authorities need to iron out before unleashing the DNA Bill in India. (Read more)