Parliamentary Standing Committee raises concerns over DNA Bill in its 340th Report

On 3rd February, 2021, Department related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change, tabled its Three Hundred Fortieth Report before Rajya Sabha on the DNA Technology (Use And Application) Regulation Bill, 2019. In its Report, the Committee underlined with utmost importance that it is essential the Bill enables the creation of an ecosystem that benefits from scientific evidence like DNA, therefore allowing the legal system to become experienced in the use and appreciation of DNA evidence.

Some of major Recommendations discussed in the Report are listed below:

  1. Since Regional DNA Data Banks do not provide any additional benefits but on the contrary creates more vulnerability to the accuracy, integrity and security of the entire system, the Committee recommended deletion of ‘Regional DNA Data Bank’ and suggested retention of only ‘National DNA Data Bank’.
  2. The National DNA Data Bank will store information related to DNA profiles alone, and not all forms of DNA testing. Therefore, the Committee recommended that the word “testing” may be replaced by the word “profiling”.
  3. The Regulatory Board as a statutory body should be independent and professional. The Committee noted that “there is no precedent for a serving Secretary to the Government of India also being the Chairperson of an 15 independent regulatory board under the administrative jurisdiction of the Department/Ministry concerned”. Therefore, the Committee recommended that the words “the Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Biotechnology” be modified as – “(a) a person of eminence in the field of biological sciences or genetics having experience of not less than twenty-five years in the field, who shall be the Chairperson of the Board.
  4. The Bill need not specify costs and it can easily be contained in a notification issued from time to time. Therefore, the Committee recommended the deletion of the words “not exceeding twenty-five thousand rupees” and replaced by the words “which may be notified from time to time”.
  5. The Director of the National DNA Data Bank requires expertise in information technology, database management etc. and National DNA Data Bank is not doing any DNA analysis. It is only storing and retrieving data from various indices. Hence an expert in biological sciences is not a necessary condition, as long as they are familiar with the subject. Therefore, the Committee, recommended that the words in “biological sciences” be modified with the words “information technology and database management, along with a familiarity with biological sciences”.

 

For more details on DNA Bill, refer to our previous story HERE

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