The DNA Technology Bill, first tabled in the Indian Lok Sabha in 2018, is set to be passed in the ongoing Monsoon session of the Parliament. It seeks to create profiles of individuals and regulate the use of DNA in the criminal justice system, for forensics and identifying persons who committed an offence. Various concerns like profiling of individuals belonging to marginalized groups and State surveillance have been put forth.
Additionally, the Bill could also violate the right to privacy of an individual recognized in K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India, an Indian Supreme Court judgement of 2017. Clause 21 of the Bill states that the written consent of an individual will be taken before the DNA is taken by appropriate State authorities. But an exception is created for individuals who have allegedly committed an offence punishable with death or imprisonment exceeding 7 years, for no specific reason. This has led to concerns regarding the privacy of individuals being violated without their consent. Further, there is lack of clarity regarding the type of data that could be stored. This is important as India does not have a Data Protection Act. Hence, the absence of safeguards for protecting privacy should be addressed in the ongoing Parliamentary session.
By- Anhad Kaur Mehta
Legal Intern, WCSF
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