DNA Bill can be misused for caste-based profiling, says panel draft report

Presentation 62

The Bill recommending DNA screening and profiling of people associated with crime or declared missing and preserving their distinctive genetic details for administrative purposes has certain troubling clauses that may be misused for caste or community-based profiling, a preliminary report on science and technology by the standing parliamentary committee has highlighted. About 15 years now the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Act, 2019 has been in the works. The report also includes red-flagged disregard for the rights of a person and other protections. In potential prosecutions, the Bill aims to retain DNA samples of offenders, under-trials, perpetrators and their families. The Bill would also locate missing dead people, particularly victims of a tragedy and arrest serial criminals for horrific offences such as abuse and murder. In its draft report, the committee found out that the DNA profiles would expose an individual’s highly sensitive details such as ethnicity, skin colour, behaviour, disability, health condition and disease susceptibility. The Bill applies to consent in many clauses, however in any of those sections, a magistrate may simply circumvent consent, thereby rendering consent perfunctory in practice.

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