Is there a law on collecting DNA data of criminals? Do we have a database of the DNA profiles of criminals? Isn't the collection of the DNA profile is a form of invading the privacy of the criminal ?
There is no such law or practise in place till date in India. However, in future if National Crime Records Bureau decides to connect its database to UIDAI's Aadhar then their biometric information may become part of it. However, it will still not have DNA information.
Is there a law on collecting DNA data of criminals?
In the year 2005, the collection of DNA samples was made legally permissible under Section 53(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. It authorizes a medical practitioner to examine the person of an accused if there are reasonable grounds for believing that such examination will bring to light the evidence regarding the offence. Such examination includes-
‘the examination of blood, blood stains, semen, swabs in case of sexual offences, sputum and sweat, hair samples, and finger nail clippings, by the use of modern and scientific techniques including DNA profiling and such other tests which the registered medical practitioner thinks necessary in a particular case’
However, it can only be done at the request of police officer who is not below the rank if sub-inspector. Such evidence is valid under Section 45 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 under ‘Opinions of experts’.
Do we have a database of the DNA profiles of criminals?
At present there is no law in India that provides for a database for DNA profiles of criminals. However, DNA collection and testing is done in many states.
There is a pending bill called DNA Profiling Bill 2015 which proposes for maintaining a National DNA databank in the following indices - crime scene index, offenders' index, missing persons' index, Unknown deceased persons' index and volunteers' index.
Isn't the collection of the DNA profile is a form of invading the privacy of the criminal?
The collection of DNA profile for evidence in a case is not an infringement of the right to privacy of an individual as the right is not absolute. It has been decided in various judgments (like M.Karthika vs R.Manohar, Harjinder Kaur vs State Of Punjab And Others) that right to privacy is not an absolute right and DNA testing in matters which require such examination of a person can be made. There is no mandate on a person to be examined for DNA and in case when the accused denies such examination the court is entitled to draw adverse inference against the individual.
However, when it comes to collection and maintaining of a database for such DNA profiles of criminals privacy concerns can be raised. The draft bill on DNA profiling has raised much concern and one of the major concerns is that of privacy of the individual. Without any safeguards in the bill it is highly likely that powers given to the authorities shall be misused and would eventually lead to infringement of privacy.
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