Decoding the D.N.A legislation in India

By at 8 April, 2010, 10:26 pm

The forensic technology has played an integral role in solving criminal cases. D.N.A (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) tests, first discovered by Prof. Alec Jeffreys in 1985 in England has now become a credible source for identifying a person with the help of his blood, hair, sperm, muscle, nerve or tissue sample. Sometimes when the victims resist, they scratch their attackers, in such cases skin cells underneath the victim’s fingernails are extracted to identify the criminal. Compared to a blood test, the possibility of a D.N.A finger printing going wrong is one in 30,000 million.

D.N.A fingerprinting: – How is it done?

  1. Specimens are collected from the crime scene.
  2. The DNA is isolated and cut to match against other samples.
  3. Subsequently, the strands are placed on a gel and an electric current passed through it
  4. The samples are then matched with the existing records of offender, arrested people and suspects.

DNA profiling narrows the list of suspects that authorities need to work through. The FBI commented that DNA profiling allows them to dismiss one-third of rape suspects because the DNA samples do not match. Authorities recognize the possibility of specimens being planted at crime scenes, and therefore continue to investigate the crime based on motive, weapon, testimony, and other clues in order to more accurately solve the case.

Law Regarding D.N.A testing in India as compared to other countries :-

India has no specific legislation or provision related to D.N.A testing. There is no provision under the Hindu Marriage Act, Indian Evidence Act, CrPc or CPC which a party could be compelled to submit one’s blood sample for examination. In such cases the court is bound to invoke Section 151, C.P.C for giving appropriate directions in the larger interest of Justice. Fortunately the courts have been instrumental in considering D.N.A tests as credible evidence from 1989.

However, countries like Australia, Canada and U.S.A have specific legislation related to DNA forensics.

The (Canada) D.N.A Identification Act, 1998 provides for the constitution of National D.N.A databanks. The act empowers judge to order persons for designated offences to provide D.N.A samples to derive D.N.A profile. The databanks help the investigative agencies in eliminating or identifying suspects or detecting serial offenders. U.K. Criminal Justice Act, 1995; provides that a blood sample for a D.N.A test may be taken forcibly by a court.

Loopholes in the present Legal System:-

1. It is on the discretion of the courts to consider D.N.A tests as a conclusive proof.

2. India has less number of D.N.A experts as compared to other developed countries. Moreover they are deprived of proper training, adequate laboratories, professional respect and perks.

3. The police is lacks the requisite knowledge of evidence collection from crime site. Most of the time the evidence is either ignored or destroyed.

4. The judges and lawyers lack forensic acumen and can be manipulated.

5. Even if evidence is send for D.N.A testing, the laboratories like F.S.L never produce the forensic reports on time.

6. Unlike Canada and Australia, we do not have a provision for National D.N.A Data bank.

7. Forcible blood test for D.N.A testing is not available in India.

8. It is often contended that the D.N.A testing violates the right to privacy of an individual.

9. Post-convict D.N.A tests are not recognized under the Indian law.

10. The power to issue directions for conducting D.N.A tests entirely rests on the court.

Recommendations

India definitely requires legislation in this regard. A D.N.A specialist must be given the status of an expert. They should be provided with adequate training and equipment. The number of laboratories must be increased. Moreover law students, lawyers, police and judges must obtain some official training and knowledge in D.N.A testing. The generation of forensic reports must be made time-bound. A D.N.A test must be not considered violation of individual’s right to privacy guaranteed under the constitution. There is a need for constitution of a National D.N.A data bank in the country. Before granting the right to D.N.A testing to post-convict, it must be ensured that the same is not misused by the prisoners.

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Comments
Sidhi April 8, 2010

D.N.A has proved an asset to the criminal justice system world wide otherwise so many rapists and murders would have enjoyed the benefit of “innocent until proven guilty”

Tanmay April 8, 2010

I used to watch a Medical Investigations series on Discovery and since then I have been fan of how FBI used to crack so typical cases using DNA decoding. In one of the cases, the murderer was caught as follows:

The victim’s dead body was found in a forest and one of the leaf from the forest happened to be in the culprit’s car so during investigation the forest trees leaves were matched with DNA of the leaf found in the car.. it may seem little weired but that way one typical case was resolved.

I certainly believe that Indian Investigation agencies can also resolve many unsolved mysteries once they start using DNA investigation techniques.

Anant April 8, 2010

DNA is the very existence of human life; using DNA in investigations would certainly be great, but then there is far more sophisticated know-how that is required by the officials, which I certainly don’t think Indian Investigation Officials have 🙂

meghna April 8, 2010

true Anant .. our investigators certainly have to gain knowledge and training in this field.

meghna April 8, 2010

In many cases the accused was convicted entirely on the basis of D.N.A evidence. Until now it is considered the most accurate and reliable source of finding out a human identity.

meghna April 8, 2010

Even I had seen the above mentioned episode and was amazed by the advancement of technology. The emergence of lominol and D.N.A has certainly equipped the criminal investigators.

nalini hebbar April 9, 2010

I think first we need to make HIV testing before marriage compulsory and then make registering an FIR easier for victims…DNA testing is a far off dream!!!

meghna April 9, 2010

Nalini… A lot of debate are going around this too. But I think for HIV testing before marriage it is essential that there is revolutionary change in the thinking of the society. A HIV patient is treated as a social criminal and this is one of the major obstacles in implementing compulsory H.I.V testing. On the other hand creating DNA profiles would only facilitate the working of the criminal justice system.

arun April 10, 2010

The article is well drafted and conceptualized…..

meghna April 13, 2010

Thanks arun..

Prakash September 4, 2010

In cases where inheritance is involved it is seen that imposters even distant acuaintances ts claim to be the biological grand children of the deceased. They don’t even possess any birth certicate and forge some documents like the voters ID card School Certificate or ration card. When asked to take a DNA test they refuse to undergo a DNAS TEST. How then the Judge is to prove that the imposter is a biological child of theirs or not. We are in the 21 st century. We must use the technology anmd science which give a fool proof method of coming at the truth in no time. It shall immensely save the time of the Courts and the agony of the wronged party. There should not be any impediment in arriving at the TRUTH. The function of the courts is to arrive at the TRUTH. our national loggo is SATYAMEV VIJAYete LET THE TRUTH BE VICTORIOUS.

IT Is absolutely imperative that in the case of slightest doubt the DNA should be ordered by the Courts as soon as tjhe Plaint is filed and the Written Statement received. specially if a person claims to be the biological son of a Central Govt Servant and has no birth certificate either from the Hospital or the MCD.or the CGHS Dispensary. To be lenient in such matters is bound to be totally unfair to one of the deserving parties. If a person clasims to be a biological son and coms to the Court to harass andcoerce other people with a view to usurp their property then he should bre prepared to undergo a DNA test.

It would be interesting t know the opinion of knowledgeable persons on the subject

meghna October 5, 2010

Prakash you have made some pertinent suggestions. The state lacks proper machinery to conduct DNA tests in all cases. Thus, they often resort to other methods to ascertain the paternity of the child. However as mentioned by you DNA tests would be a better method anyday.

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