D.N.A stands for Deoxyribonucleic Acid, and forms a part of the genetic material living being. There is a remarkable property of DNA, no two persons in the world (unless they’re identical twins) share the same DNA, this property of DNA paved way for the technology of D.N.A profiling/fingerprinting. DNA profiling simply implies the process of matching the DNA obtained from a investigation scene to the DNA of the accussed so as to determine their guilt.

Sir Alec Jeffreys, a professor of the University of Leicester is often credited to the discovery of, and the first successful investigation involving DNA profiling[1], The case was a sensational rape and murder mystery committed over three years by the same perpetrator. The technology of DNA profiling was used as the samples collected were quite less in quantity and could yield nothing substantial, on the other hand DNA could be mirrored and the smallest drop of blood or strand of hair could have helped in a far superior manner.

While DNA profiling has a special value pertaining to the field of crime investigation as such tests would definitely constitute corroborative evidence[2], The Law Commision Report while examining the Draft Bill of 2016 stated that, the statute was pretty much needed as a mere amendment in the Cr.P.C. would not suffice.

The 2016 Bill drafted by the Department of Biotechnology proposed to form a National DNA Data Bank and a DNA profiling board. It also laid down various purposes for using the data, the proposed board would have consisted of molecular biology, human genetics, population biology, bioethics, social sciences, law and criminal justice experts.

“The National DNA Data Bank, was supposed to collect data from offenders, suspects, missing persons, unidentified dead bodies and volunteers. It was to profile and store DNA data in criminal cases like homicide, sexual assault, adultery and other crimes….”.[3]  While discussing the chapter on other reports and the 2016 bill, the report acknowledged the concerns of privacy which were raised against the draft bill.

The Law Commission also looked into the contemporary scenarios and legislations throughout the globe while looking into the constitutional challenges of privacy and self-incrimination posed to the draft bill,drawing inference from the British backdrop[4] recommended that it did not violate the Human rights in general and right to privacy in particular.

The Commission pointed out that the  Bill lacked special provisions with respect to the  funding of the Board and how its allocation investigating agencies to collect proper reports of samples. Moreover, the Bill did not specifically provide as to on what stage the samples could be collected, which was raised as a major concern by the Law Commission.

 The Commission looked into the A.P.Shah Committee report[5] and the Malimath Committee report[6] as well and suggested amendments not only in the draft bill but various other statutes which could potentially implicate the innocents once the legislation was brought about, including the section 4 of Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 in line with section 27 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 which empowers the Court to direct the accused/suspect in writing to give his handwriting, blood or other bodily substances which come within the meaning of DNA sample by way of the definition clause u/s2(i) of the draft bill.

The commission post taking into consideration the various different factors posing threats to the success of the statute laid down its recommendations in the final chapter of the report, with a demarcated section on the salient features of the recommendations, these recommendations are pretty much in consonance with the recent Right to Privacy verdict[7] and have been made to the different sections and parts of the draft bill 2016 separately.

The Commission headed by Dr. Justice B.S. Chauhan has in the form of a Draft Bill 2017 incorporated the necessary changes and annexed the same along with the annexure consisting the contemporary position of the law of Genetics throughout the globe in the Law Commission report itself.

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This article has been authored by Anurag Shankar Prasad

[1] University of Toledo Law Review 24 U. Tol. L. Rev. (1992-1993)

[2] Veeran v. Veeravarmalle & Anr., AIR 2009 Mad. 64; and Harjinder Kaur v. State of Punjab & Ors., 2013 (2) RCR (Criminal) 146.

[3] P.37, Ch-VI, Rep 271, Law commission of  India

[4] R (on the application of S) v. Chief Constable of South Yorkshire  (2003) 1 All ER 148,

[5] Report of the Group of Experts on Privacy ( Chaired by Justice A.P.Shah) submitted to Planning Commission on 16 October 2012

[6] Malimath Committee Report on Reform of Criminal Justice System, 2003

[7] Justice K.S Puttaswamy (Retd.), and Anr  v. Union of India 2017 SCC OnLine SC 996