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Andhra Pradesh working on system to DNA-tag convicts


The Hindu

Context

State drafting legislation that will enable collection of genetic fingerprints to solve crime, track offenders

What has happened?

The Andhra Pradesh government plans to bring in legislation that will allow the State police and investigating agencies to collect and store DNA samples in a centralised database

Backdrop:-

 Draft bill on the issue by centre in 2012: Centre had first prepared a draft bill on the issue in 2012, but the legislation ran into severe opposition from activists on the ground that it violated privacy. It has since been on hold

  • The Centre’s Human DNA Profiling Bill, 2015, was prepared by the Department of Biotechnology and the Hyderabad-based Centre for DNA-Fingerprinting and Diagnostics but is yet to be cleared by the Union Cabinet. Several organisations and individuals, however, raised concerns that the bill gave sweeping powers to government to mine the database and use it for purposes beyond just solving crime

DNA collection-kit launched

In August 2016, the Andhra Pradesh government, in an event attended by Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, launched a DNA collection-kit developed by IntegenX, Inc, a US company that enables DNA to be extracted from saliva and blood samples within a matter of two hours

Rationale behind the move

Tracking repeat offenders: The reasoning is that a centralised DNA database on convicts would help track repeat offenders in sexual assault and rape

Issues

  • Database might be compromised

Counter: So far, about 70 million samples have been collected in 54 countries over 20 years, and there have been no instances of databases being compromised

  • Database needs a supportive central legislation to be of any use
  • Need to first train people in collecting DNA from crime scenes and storing them properly. A database can come later

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