DNA Technology Bill – Everything You Need to Know

Law is organic. It is ever-evolving. Its most difficult challenge, however, is to evolve as quickly as the changes being embraced by the society. It is indeed a tough task considering the breakneck speed at which we are advancing. Arguably, the biggest fear facing society today is the probable inability of law to keep pace with advancement in technology.

We cannot govern what the law has not envisaged. And, what is ungoverned can very likely cause anarchy and disruption, to say the least.

However, technology, while being a worthy adversary to law, is also an indispensable ally. With ingenious criminals harnessing a devilish kind of creativity these days, it is technology which makes it possible to even detect crimes in the first place, leave alone nabbing the culprits.

Thus, the Union Cabinet’s approval of the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2018 granted on 5th July, 2018 comes as a welcome and much-needed reprieve. This Bill, in essence, is aimed towards expanding the scope of application of DNA-based forensic technologies in order to assist the justice delivery system in India. No one can disagree about the usefulness of such technology in bringing crimes home to criminals, providing relief to victims and their families and serving justice to the society at large.

This Bill provides for mandatory accreditation and regulation of DNA laboratories ensuring the reliability of test results and protection of data from misuse or abuse.

Thus, this Bill hopes to achieve an expedited delivery of justice and a heightened rate of conviction. The comprehensiveness and ambit of the Bill will enable cross matching of DNA samples so as to reconcile cases of missing persons with the discoveries of unidentified bodies all across the country in the hope of establishing identity of victims.

Similarly, in cases of crimes that are committed against the human body, such as violent crimes like murder, rape, causing grievous hurt, or physical contact crimes like kidnapping, trafficking, abduction, etc. as well as crimes against property where the culprit might leave behind some imprint of himself (like burglary, theft, etc.) can now be solved easily with Forensic DNA profiling that is part and package of this Bill.

Presently, only a small percentage of such cases go through the process of DNA testing. However, with the expanded use of this technology envisaged in the Bill, criminals of India need to beware!

This article has been authored by Varnika Jain from Team LawSkills.

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First Job Jitters? Here’s How to Keep your Cool!

Finished your studies, got placed and looking forward to joining your first job? Congratulations! You’ve made it this far.

A new job tends to give jitters to even the most seasoned lot. Thus, when it is your first job, it’s only natural that to feel stressed.

However, the first job always has an advantage because your mind is free. It’s a completely fresh start. There are no yardsticks. There is no prior work culture experience to compare with. So, the key is that you stay positive and enthusiastic about it and bear the following in mind when you report at work. This will surely help you sail through smoothly.

  • Be Suitably  Attired: Your attire says a lot about you. Dress for success, not to impress! Your outfit may not be as per the most recent fashion, but it should be as per your office rules!

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  • Be Punctual: Keep extra time in hand. Adapt yourself to this new phase in life by practicing in advance. Change your sleep cycle, get up early, do whatever it takes to always be on time. It will always be the first impression that you make!

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  • Etiquette : Carry your etiquette along, for no matter what and how many degrees you hold, it can all go down the drain, in that one moment when you act crude.

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  • Be Confident: Be confident, in whatever you say, whatever you do.

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  • Be Honest : Being it your first job, no one will expect you to know everything. If you don’t know something – ask, be honest, for this is the one quality that will go long way.

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  • Profile Expectations : Sometimes, our job profile could be different from what we have been studying for. Not getting the desired “as studied” profile may cause dissatisfaction. Don’t over analyze it on the first day. Give it some time, settle down, find out more about what your job requires from you. Don’t judge the book by its cover.

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  • Communicate Effectively : Being a good listener is more important than being a good speaker. Listen carefully before responding. Follow the three C’s of communication – be Consistent, Clear and Courteous.

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And finally, just stay calm. Remember that eventually, everything falls into place.

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As the adage goes, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

This article has been authored by Ruchi Malhari from Team LawSkills.

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The Right to Information and you!

RTIDid you know – instead of just cribbing and crying over delayed construction of a road outside your home which you know will soon get either flooded or spotted with potholes – you can actually get a sample to check the quality of material being used?

Yes! When they say information they mean all kinds of information, written and physical.

Now with the Supreme Court capping RTI application fees to Rs. 50 per application and Rs. 5 for photocopying, asking for information no longer remains a huge hurdle. Here are five things you should know before filing an RTI –

  • What type of Information can be sought? Information from any government institution on its working and spending. There are a few exceptions to this rule such as any information affecting the sovereignty and integrity of India.
  • Who can seek information? Any civilian of India can file an application under the RTI Act, 2005.
  • Who should the application be addressed to? There are dedicated Public Information officers for every government department obligated to send replies to RTI queries.
  • What is the fee for filing an application? Rs. 10 needs to be paid towards an RTI application. Fees for photocopying records and documents are additional.
  • What sort of ‘access’ to information can be provided? In addition to receiving a response to your query, you can also seek examination of records and documents available at government offices. You can have what you need either photocopied or taken on electronic media after payment of appropriate fees.

 

This article has been authored by Varnika Jain from Team LawSkills.

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LEGALISATION OF PASSIVE EUTHANASIA IN INDIA

What You Need to Know – Supreme Court’s decision legalising Passive Euthanasia

EuthanasiaThe Supreme Court has finally come out with a judgment clarifying the uncertain waters surrounding the concept of assisted suicide or euthanasia. By holding that the fundamental right to live also includes the right to die with dignity, the judgment brings to conclusion a long-standing ethical, moral, religious and legal dilemma. The Supreme Court had been known for its conflicting stand on this issue over the years. In the absence of any legislation to this effect, the judgment allows the terminally ill, comatose and brain dead to end their life with dignity through either a living will or a next friend.

Here is what you need to know about Euthanasia and the evolution of its legal standing –

Euthanasia – The Concept – Euthanasia refers to the painless killing of a patient, who is either in a vegetative state, comatose or suffering from a non-reversible, terminal disease. There are two types of Euthanasia which are broadly used in medical terms, active and passive. Usually administered through a physician, it is a form of mercy killing and hence raises a myriad question in the legal sphere. The answer to them calls for striking a balancing act between personal choice and the society’s interest in the life of a person.

Active vs. Passive Euthanasia – Active euthanasia differs from passive euthanasia in as much as in it death is brought about by an act of commission – for example, a person is killed by being given an overdose of pain killers or injecting a lethal dose of a heart stopping medicine. On the other hand, in passive euthanasia, death is brought by omission. In other words, by not carrying out any medical intervention to save the person’s life, withdrawing life support, removing from ventilator, etc. The Court has also distinguished between voluntary euthanasia and non-voluntary euthanasia in the sense that voluntary euthanasia is where consent is taken from the patient himself and non-voluntary euthanasia is where the consent is unavailable, for instances when the patient is in coma or is otherwise unable to give consent. In such cases, decision is taken either by a relative, called “next friend”, or if the patient had drawn a Living Will leaving specific instruction on how he is to be treated in such circumstances. For e.g., a Living Will sets down whether a man is to be resuscitated or not once his heart rate has flat lined.

In the words of the Hon’ble Supreme Court –

“Euthanasia is basically an intentional premature termination of another person‘s life either by direct intervention (active euthanasia) or by withholding life-prolonging measures and resources (passive euthanasia) either at the express or implied request of that person (voluntary euthanasia) or in the absence of such approval/consent (non-voluntary euthanasia).”

Euthanasia and the Supreme Court – The Supreme Court, in Gian Kaur vs. State of Punjab[1], clearly held that euthanasia and assisted suicide are not lawful in our country. The court, however, referred to the principles laid down by the Airedale case, where the House of Lords accepted that withdrawal of life supporting systems on the basis of informed medical opinion would be lawful because such withdrawal would only allow the patient who is beyond recovery to die a normal death, where there is no longer any duty to prolong life. Yet, it overruled the case of P. Rathinam vs. Union of India [2] wherein it was observed that criminalization of the act of suicide was inhuman and the right to life, in essence, includes the right to die. Later, in the landmark case of Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug vs. Union of India[3], the Supreme Court allowed passive euthanasia in India, provided the circumstances were extreme. On 9th March, 2018, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, in delivering its verdict on a PIL filed by Common Cause (an NGO) legalized passive euthanasia and the right to draft a Living Will thereby expanding the scope of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Snapshot of the crucial issues addressed by the Supreme Court in various cases :-

  • Rathinam’s case (1994) – The question of unconstitutionality of Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code – Punishment for attempted suicide – held that criminalizing suicide was inhuman
  • Gian Kaur’s case (1996) – The question of unconstitutionality of Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code – Punishment for Abetment of suicide – Held that the right to life does not include the right to die and even doctors cannot actively assist in ending a patient’s life
  • Aruna Shaunbag’s Case (2011) – The question of passive euthanasia – held that passive euthanasia is exigent circumstances was not illegal
  • Common Cause Society’s Case (2018)[4] – This case arose from the Aruna Shanbaug judgment and, primarily, addressed the questions of Social morality, medical ethicality and State interest while holding that passive euthanasia and living wills are legal in order to acknowledge a person’s right to die with dignity

[1]MANU/SC/0335/1996

[2] MANU/SC/0433/1994

[3] MANU/SC/0176/2011

[4] MANU/SC/0232/2018

This article has been authored by Varnika Jain from Team LawSkills.

 

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Legalising Passive Euthanasia, here’s What You Need to Know

  • The Supreme Court has recognized the right to die with dignity to be inherent in the fundamental right to life and personal liberty.
  • This means that legal validity is granted to assisted suicide (euthanasia) for persons suffering from terminal diseases, living in persistent vegetative state, comatose state or brain dead, etc.
  • What is allowed – Removal of life sustaining or prolonging medicines, machines and devices is acceptable in the presence of trained medical professionals. That is, only passive euthanasia is legal.
  • What is not allowed – Taking any actual step to end someone’s life like administering a lethal injection, poison or heart stopping drugs, etc., even by medical professionals is not allowed. This means that active euthanasia is still a crime.
  • Where a patient in such condition is conscious and mentally competent, he or she can consent to passive euthanasia.
  • When he is unconscious or incapable of taking such a call, a ‘next friend’ can decide on his behalf.
  • You can also take this decision in advance too by making a “Living Will’ while you are hale and hearty. It will include specific instructions on how your medical care should be administered in such situations. For e.g., you can state whether you should be resuscitated or not, whether your life should be artificially prolonged by keeping you on a ventilator or not, etc.
  • How the Supreme Court came to this decision – A Timeline of Cases –
    • 1994 Rathinam case (MANU/SC/0335/1996) – Held that criminalizing suicide was inhuman.
    • 1996 Gian Kaur case (MANU/SC/0335/1996) – Held that the right to life does not include the right to die and even doctors cannot actively assist in ending a patient’s life.
    • 2011 Aruna Shaunbag Case (MANU/SC/0176/2011) – Held that passive euthanasia is exigent circumstances was not illegal.
    • 2018 Common Cause Society Case (MANU/SC/0232/2018) – Held that passive euthanasia and living wills are legal to give effect to a person’s right to die with dignity.

This article has been authored by Varnika Jain from Team LawSkills.

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Aadhaar Linkage Extension by Supreme Court

27809-aadhaar-iansThe Supreme Court yesterday extended the deadline for linking of mobiles, bank accounts and PAN cards with AADHAR till it finally resolves the dispute surrounding this case. However, the requirement of the UID Number by the government for the issuance and continuance of several services and benefits does not stand suspended. So, while we ignore messages from our telecom service providers, banks and, at times, the government, let us see what we can and cannot link, apply for, continue with and without our AADHAR –

  • What can be conveniently deferred without consequences –
    • You need not link your existing bank accounts to your AADHAR. The 12 digit UID Number might still be asked for while applying for new accounts. For those who’s AADHAR status is still pending, the application number would suffice for opening the account
    • You need not complete the E-KYC for your mobile number by the 31st of March
    • AADHAR is not needed to enroll for NEET (medical entrance examination) and other all India level examinations.
  • Grey Area –
    • The Order of the Supreme Court does not specify whether AADHAR linkage for PAN Cards has been indefinitely postponed. The same applies to mutual funds, insurance, credit cards, PPF, KVP and other small savings schemes.
  • What needs AADHAR linkage or an alternate, government-issued identification number –
    • Any subsidy, benefit or service financed by the Consolidated Fund of India. A few of these are stated below for ready reference –
      • LPG and kerosene subsidies. People desirous of availing this service would still have to provide their AADHAR to continue enjoying them.
      • Benefits under the government’s Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) schemes.
      • Social Security Schemes like Atal Pension Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana
      • Government Scholarships
      • Food grain/cash subsidies, mid-day meals and other public distribution services like rations, etc.

 

This article has been authored by Varnika Jain from Team LawSkills.

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