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Usha Ramanathan’s Note of Dissent on Human DNA Profiling Bill that is coming up in Parliament Monsoon Session

English: The structure of DNA showing with det...

English: The structure of DNA showing with detail showing the structure of the four bases, adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine, and the location of the major and minor groove. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Human DNA Profiling Bill is being brought in Parliament probably this Monsoon session in 2015. Bill that has been pushed by the CDFD (Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad) with full support from India’s Dept of Biotechnology. 
It asks for the collection of DNA from convicts, accused and suspects; unidentified dead bodies; create a missing persons’ index; create a volunteers index and from anyone else as required by regulations. here is to be a DNA Data Bank into which all our DNA data will be out and held. 
If this goes through, this will be one dangerous data base, and one more over which we will have no control.

From: Usha Ramanathan 
Date: 19 February 2015 at 16:58
Subject: My dissent to the `report’
To: Dr. RAo, Dr. Alka Sharma

Hello Dr Rao, Dr Alka Sharma

Thank you for the reply.

I am more than a little surprised to find that the mildly revised Bill does not reflect any of what i had given in my long researched piece to the committee. There is no discussion of it either.

As you have reason to know, since the committee was set up in January 2013, there were the early presentations made by Dr Gowrishankar on the work on the Bill that had happened which culminated in the first in the 2007 Bill, which was later revised to produce the draft Bill of 2012.

When the Committee of Experts on Privacy was set up under the Chairpersonship of Justice A.P.Shah, of which i was a member, the UID project and the Human DNA Profiling Bill, then in its 2011 form, were what prompted immediate attention to the issue of privacy. In October 2012, that committee presented its report which has, since then, been in the public domain.

When, early in 2013, you invited me to be part of the committee to review the Human DNA Profiling Bill 2012, the concerns around the Bill included the issue of privacy but went further.

The reason that the discussion became important was because of some particular changes that have happened in recent years that could have a significant impact on the nature of information gathered, retained, and used in a variety of ways. These changes include:

  • `databasing’ as a phenomenon that has implications for what is done with information about the individual, as it has for national security, and for the corporatising effect of such databases being created.

Edward Snowden’s revelations about the workings of the US National Security Agency has profoundly shaken many naive assumptions about security of data that pre-existed this expose.

  • the UID project which aims to converge data about every individual in the country, and the problems with the project that have been pointed out in various writings, as also, significantly, the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Finance on the National Identification of Authority of India Bill 2010, in December 2011, and the cases that are currently pending in the Supreme Court. These include challenges to the project by a range of petitioners and, significantly, also the UIDAI in its challenge to an attempt by the CBI to get the whole data base of biometrics of all persons enrolled in the state of Goa. The UIDAI has adopted many of the positions that moved the petitioners in the Supreme Court to ask that the UIDAI project be dismantled. These include, but is not confined to, issues of privacy, and the dangers posed in privacy of persons being breached. The UIDAI v. CBI case also reveals the difficulties in safeguarding a database – apart from the technological difficulties – when such a database has been created.
  • technology is still in a state of flux, and it is not possible to predict at this stage what the consequences of databasing could be in the not-so-long term, as technology keeps throwing up constitutional challenges.

In my piece written for the committee, i have set out the concerns about the databasing of DNA, questions of consent, the myth of the infallibility of DNA (that it is based on probability and is a better metric than others that we now know and use, but that is still probabilistic – this is important to emphasise when we consider the consequences of a presumption that it cannot be wrong), the problems with an agency like the CDFD being given the role of creating regulations and being the regulator when it is itself an institution that will have to be regulated – especially when we see the rle of the CDFD in setting the DNA agenda in the study papers that were given by the DBT to feed into the 11th and the 12th Plans. There is much more, as you would have seen in the piece i prepared for the committee, which i attach to this mail, along with the comments on the Bill.

Every Bill needs a Financial Memorandum to accompany it. I find that there was no study that had been done of the costs involved in pursuing the extraordinary ambitions that the Bill sets out. In my continuing study of the subject, i found this information about the cost of the DNA database in the United Kingdom where, it may be remembered, it is only about a criminal database. It is to be found at DNA database annual report:

It appears that the Home Office spent £2.2 million in 2013-14 running the National DNA Database on behalf of the UK police forces.

There were also issues of serious import including this ambition with DNA which i had pointed out, and which comes from the DBT’s study report in the lead up to the 12th Plan document, and which can be found at, and which reads:
“Human population analysis with a view to elicit signature profiling of different caste populations of India to use them in forensic DNA fingerprinting and develop DNA databases.”

In our discussions, i had also asked for assistance from the DBT on a range of issues, including the pro forma that is currently in use for sending DNA samples for testing in criminal cases and which includes a column on `caste’. (see attachment)

These are deeply disturbing introductions into classification that is being brought in through DNA, and they deserved attention. Unfortunately, the meetings were too focused on finding consensus and so many of these issues remained unresolved.

I must say too that the `Minutes’ can hardly be considered the report of the committee. Nor can the sub-committee’s consideration be considered the last word, especially as the Sub-Committee comprised a few members of the committee that was picked out by the convenor to take a look at our initial comments and see what could be made of it. The Sub-Committee report was to be considered by the whole committee and we were to work further on it. Which i did, with a seriousness that is reflected in the piece i handed over to the committee which is attached.

I do not see a reflection of the concerns that I have raised in my piece to the committee, or when i raised them during our meetings. Minutes are no substitute for a report. Consider, for instance, what is recorded as minutes when i had given in my piece to the committee – nothing of the concerns raised have been recorded there. Nothing from it was discussed either.

I would reiterate that Minutes do not constitute a report. The revised Draft was not shown to me nor did i approve of it, and i have only seen it after i read in the papers that the report had been finalised and i wrote asking to see it; after which you sent me the minutes and the mildly revised draft as the report. I do not agree that the revisions reflect the concerns that have been raised by me time and again, including in my three contributions to the committee dated 9 November, 2014, 2 September 2013 and 18 November 2014 (clause-by-clause comments).

I, therefore, ask that you append the three documents (all of which are attached to this mail, for easy reference) to the revised draft Bill, which are in the nature of a dissent to what has been proposed.

Do let me know when that has been done.

Thank you

and warm regards



Notes on the Human DNA Profiling Bill 2012 presented to the committee set up to discuss the Draft Bill and to make suggestions on the Draft Bill

Draft final comments dated 09 November, 2014

Usha Ramanathan

Member, Committee set up to discuss and make suggestions on the Human DNA Profiling Bill 2012

A law enacted on DNA profiling has to be careful about the claim it makes about the extent to which it can be relied on. DNA is generally acknowledged as being more certain than other bio-scientific metrics such as fingerprints. Yet, experience so far demonstrates that the results of DNA analysis is not infallible. For one, DNA is probabilistic, not absolute. Two, it is interpretative. Three, there is a margin of error and overlap in DNA profiling that may occur due to ‘coincidental matching’. Four, there is human error including that which occurs while collecting the DNA, lapses in the chain of custody, contamination, errors in labelling and reporting. Five, intentional misuse and abuse of biological material. Six, false matches are more likely to occur with relatives, since they share some of the DNA sequences. William C Thomson’s 2008 article, “The Potential for error in forensic DNA testing (and how that complicates the use of DNA databases for criminal identification” contains illustrations that should lend caution to claims of infallibility.

Some excerpts:

“In cases I have reviewed over the past few years, evidentiary samples from crime scenes often produce incomplete or partial DNA profiles. Limited quantities of DNA, degradation of the sample, or the presence of inhibitors (contaminants)can make it impossible to determine the genotype at every locus.”

“The British Home Office has reported that between 2001 and 2006, 27.6% of the matches reported from searches of the UK National DNA Database(NDNAD) were to more than one person in the database. According to the report, the multiple-match cases arose “largely due to the significant proportion of crime scene sample profiles that are partial.”

“Because partial profiles contain fewer genetic markers (alleles) than complete profiles, they are more likely to match someone by chance.”

“People sometimes mistakenly assume that if the frequency of the matching profile is 1 in 10 million, that there is only one chance in 10 million that the suspect is not the source of that profile. This is a logical error that has been labelled the prosecutor’s fallacy.”

“When the estimated frequency of the DNA profile is 1 in n, where n is a number larger than the earth’s population, some people assume the profile must be unique; an error David Balding has called the uniqueness fallacy.In such cases the expected frequency of duplicate profiles is less than one, but it never falls to zero no matter how rare the profile is. If the frequency of a profile is one in 10 billion, for example, then the expected likelihood of finding duplication in a population of 250 million unrelated individuals is about 1 in 40. This may sound like a low risk, but in a system in which thousands of 1-in-10 billion evidentiary profiles are searched each year against millions of database profiles, coincidental matches will inevitably be found.”

“When DNA evidence was first introduced, a number of experts testified that false positives are impossible in forensic DNA testing. According to Jonathan Koehler, these experts engaged in “a sinister semantic game” in which they denied that a DNA test could be wrong by distinguishing error by the test itself from error by the people administering and interpreting the test(which they labelled “human error”). Claims that the tests themselves are error-free have contributed to the rhetoric of infallibility that has surrounded DNA testing. Whether such claims are sinister or not, they are misleading because humans necessarily involved in conducting DNA tests. When assessing the rise of false incriminations, it does not matter whether false positives are due to human or technical failure; what matters is how often (and under what circumstances) such errors occur and how easily they can be detected.”

Thomson cites cases of ‘erroneous matches’ due to “false cold to hits” due to “cross-contamination of samples”, mislabelling of samples”, “misrepresentation of test results” and “typing errors” and “intentional planting of DNA.”

Aronson and Cole reinforce these concerns. They cite, for instance, in a 2007 paper an episode where the Houston Police Department’s crime laboratory was closed down in 2002 after it was discovered that the employees regularly fabricated DNA and other forensic evidence in their lab and perjured about the results of their test.” (624-25) An investigation of the HPD casework, they write, revealed 43 cases “in which there are significant doubts about reliability of the work performed, the validity of the Crime Lab’s analytical results, or the correctness of the analysts’ reported conclusions. [Office of the Independent Investigator for the Houston Police Department Crime Laboratory and Property Room 2006 cited in Aronson and Cole p.625. This example is multiplied at p.625]

A suggestion that as the science of DNA develops, errors would be minimised is subject to doubt as, in fact, the contrary seems more probable: as the sensitivity of DNA improves, the probability of error increases.

The Indian experience is relatively limited, but there are instances of error in recording within our experience. In response to an RTI request, the CDFD had, in 2012, revealed that there were four recorded instances of “erroneous labelling of DNA samples of the DNA report” which should raise concern, even with the clarification that “the reconsideration of the report did not in any way alter the conclusion of the earlier DNA report.” [Annexure 5 in the reply dated 1 August, 2012 to an RTI request sent in by GK Gill.] The issue again arose during the trial in the matter of Arushi Talwar where a report dated 6 November, 2008 was altered by way of a clarification dated 24 March 2011, where the CDFD stated that the description of two exhibits had been interchanged. “There are typographical errors in the description of the exhibits 14 and 20”, the communication read. Since there is no explanation in the letter about how the typographical error was detected after a lapse of two years, questions had been raised by the defence about this revisiting of the report. A pillow cover with the blood of one of the deceased was, in the first instance, recorded as being the exhibit found in the room of one of the suspects against whom proceedings had been dropped. The clarification came after the accused-parent had challenged in court that the CBI was not acting on evidence indicated the involvement of the suspect. This, as the defence said in a note, “chang(ed) the entire structure of the case”, making this one recorded case where the process produced evidence of the problem with perceiving DNA evidence as infallible.

DNA and digitised databases

DNA Data banks and DNA databases tend to be used interchangeably, and that is how it is being used in this report. These terms refer to DNA data that is collected, managed, updated in a way that makes it easy to access and use.

A word of caution on data basing of DNA information: creation of DNA databases is very likely to be accompanied by the digitisation of the database. What is of concern, then, is not only the wisdom or otherwise of creating DNA databases, but also the implications of the technology that will be used in managing, updating and facilitating the use of the database. One, there are questions about security of data. It has been said that ‘electronic’ and ‘secret’ represent a contradiction implying that that which is held electronically is not easy, if not close to impossible, to secure. Encryption is suggested as the way to protect the data; yet, it is acknowledged that encryption only makes it more difficult to crack the code, but that there are hackers, including those who work for other governments, who can break in – a phenomenon that is regularly reported.

Two, managing databases through digitisation makes data mining, data transfer, bio tagging, for instance, very simple. In addition, regulation becomes more complex. Further, the control of the data passes on to the controller of the data base; with those whose DNA data is being data based simultaneously losing control over it. Manipulation of data is another fear that was voiced among those interviewed in the course of the preparation of this report.

Three, the reliance for technology – both the software and the hardware – on corporations and on agencies such as the FBI give us pause. In this context, the adoption of CODIS, which is a software that has been created by the FBI, comes with more than an element of risk. “This is the software they need to build a DNA database which allows sharing of DNA matches with the US,” Helen Wallace of GeneWatch wrote in an email, cautioning about the adoption of such technology. The implications of having a data base that the FBI, or any foreign agency, finds compatible must be considered before adopting this technology. (See for news that CDFD has already installed the software. Whether this should be used for carrying the profiles of our population needs to be debated. See also EU report page 36-37 and different database software used by Interpol built in-house.)

Four, this is an era of ‘big data’. A DNA database of the kind envisaged would be a prime candidate for being inducted into the universe of ‘big data’. To quote Kaushik Sundararajan, the author of Biocapital: The constitution of post-genomic life (2006), who wrote in an email dated March 4, 2014: “My bigger concerns lie in what seems to me an inadequate understanding of “data” itself in this case. The kinds of DNA fingerprinting data used in forensic databases, in and of themselves, constitute what is by now a rather established form of personalized data. The real potential developments …. are the ways in which such data points now have the capacity to get linked in to “big data” systems that can link vast amounts of individual and collective data from many disparate sources. What would it mean for the kinds of limited jurisdictional review boards envisaged in this bill if some other law enforcement agency could link forensic data to data from, for instance, the National Unique ID database? It does not seem like that this is a bill that has the intent or capacity to deal with the kinds of systemic and comprehensive uses of big data that can be imagined across multiple regimes of information gathering, not just relating to criminal justice but also extending to identification, de-duplication, security etc.”

A DNA database would, inevitably, become a part of this galaxy of databases, with consequences that implicate safety, security, privacy including genetic privacy, function creep, corporatisation of genetic data, for instance.

The data basing of DNA, differently from DNA profiling – which, for instance, is done now in criminal cases, or as a health procedure – raises all these concerns. And these are illustrative. This distinction between DNA profiling and DNA databasing is significant and must be recognised before enactment of a law on the subject.

This exercise in lawmaking appears from the D-PAC records, to have begun with the intent of creating a DNA database of convicts, but this has expanded well beyond to include a range of categories. In our deliberations on databasing DNA, we considered each of these categories to test the logic, and implications of DNA databasing. Since the documents did not explain why the route of ‘databasing’ was adopted, and since DNA profiling does not necessarily require further databasing, we kept that in view in our deliberations.

DNA databasing and the criminal process

In brief, these were our findings:


DNA databasing of convicts may find relevance to the extent that it is connected with recidivism, and an offence that involve serious bodily harm such as rape or murder. The usefulness of DNA evidence in ‘terrorist’ offences was not as clear, since the use of DNA evidence in such cases does not seem to have been the norm.

Persons convicted of rape and murder serve long sentences and spend long years in custody. How DNA databasing would help was not immediately clear.

This became a matter of discussion especially when the cost of creating, managing and maintaining a convict’s database over the years was considered. In the UK, for instance: “In 2010, putting someone’s DNA profile on the database in England and Wales was estimated to cost £30 to £40 and storing one person’s DNA sample cost was estimated to cost £1a year. Running the computer database itself cost £4.29 million and in 2008/2009 and additional unknown policing costs …” The Bill, it must be said, nor the background documents provided, explain how a convict’s database would aid in criminal investigation; nor what the cost:benefit analysis of such a systemic intervention would be. This is information that a lawmaker will need to arrive at an informed decision.

Accused, suspect 

One question that came up concerned the ethical and practical issues in collecting, holding and destroying the DNA sample and DNA information in the database. Whose DNA should the police collect. That they should not collect generally to create stored profiles, using the occurrence of a crime as an opportunity and by designating persons as suspects. There were questions about whether there should be independent oversight of DNA collection, retention and destruction by the police.

Indefinite detention of DNA data, especially where a suspect ceases to be a suspect, or an accused is discharged or acquitted, would be contrary to ethics and, per se, discriminatory. The case in the ECHR of S. and Marper v. United Kingdom dated 4 December, 2008.)

In discussions with criminal lawyers, two observations stood out, demanding to be noticed:

(1) The general decline in the quality of investigation is one of the fundamental reasons why the criminal justice system is in a crisis. They drew our attention to the number of cases where confession forms almost the only evidence. While there are apprehensions that confessions are often induced or coerced through means that include torture and pressure inflicted while in police custody, the Innocence Project has shown that oftentimes ‘voluntary’ confessions are made by the innocent. Roughly 27% of those found innocent as a result of the work done by the Innocence Project had confessed. Such research is currently on on why this happens, but tentatively it appears that the conditions of custody, the power equation between the captor and the captive, and the effect of questioning on the mind of an arrested person contribute to the making of ‘confessions’. More recently, DNA has acquired an unassailable status partly because the mistaken assumption that it is ‘infallible’, and, partly, because the questioning of scientific evidence is poorly developed in the Indian judicial system.

In the meantime, questions persist around –

  • collection of DNA from the crime site
  • chain of custody
  • contamination

This raises questions about the value, and dependability, of DNA evidence which a law on the subject must address.

(2) One of the deeply disturbing features of the use of DNA evidence is in the form that lawyers showed us, and which accompanies the DNA sample to the lab. The form asks for information that includes ‘caste and origin of state.” This is a column that needs to be investigated – how and why it is in the form, and what is expected to be garnered in the context of DNA evidence. That it is proposed that such information will be databased raises questions about its constitutionality, and about the prejudice that gets built into the procedure. The idea of “genes of criminality” could be seen to be resurrected in this exercise. In discussions with civil liberties advocates and Dalit activists, it was observed that the idea of population genetics and of being able to identify the population group from which they are drawn is unacceptable, (a) based on our experience with what discriminatory provisions did to Denotified Tribes, as communities, (b) because this will amount to discrimination on the basis of the population and (c) because this will affect caste and caste politics in a deeply significant way.

It has also been observed that population genetics has no role in criminal databasing

The form also asks for information about “visible genetic abnormalities, if any”. The impact of databasing individual profiles is exacerbated when they are vulnerable populations, such as the mentally ill, children, minorities and Dalits or persons with physical disabilities. The prejudices of the criminal justice system makes them more vulnerable to be on ‘suspects’ and ‘accused’ lists, and to becoming ‘tagged’.

In addition: serious questions were raised about the validity of DNA profiles in criminal cases where the case, and the accused, are revealed while sending the samples to be profiled. In one instance, at a meeting held to discuss the Human DNA Profiling Bill 2007/2012, a scientist attached to a hospital of repute spoke of an episode where the lab had been under pressure to produce a stated result, and that they had resisted. In another interview with a young researcher, it was explained how pressure had, in fact, swayed the lab in producing a result that could help the case moved towards conviction.

The CDFD, in the RTI adverted to (supra), has explained that there are controls within the establishment. But, it is plain that these are not sufficient to ensure that no extraneous factors enter the DNA profiling process.

The value of DNA evidence is dramatically reduced when the samples are not anonymised even when they reach the lab – where neither the case, nor the persons whose sample is being sent, is known to the lab.

When the Criminal Procedure Code was amended in 2005, it brought the collection of biological material within the law [Sections 53 and 53 A Cr PC]. There are limitations on the biological material that may be collected which are important. Blood, blood stains, semen, swabs in case of sexual offences; and sputum and sweat, hair samples and fingernail clippings for DNA profiling and any other tests that the registered medical practitioner “thinks necessary in a particular case”.

It is a matter of fact and of law that there is no element of consent in the collection of biological materials under these provisions. The law, therefore, has to provide for protecting the genetic material. The only use of a DNA sample taken under this provision must strictly be in the context of evidence in the case under enquiry. In any event, it cannot be allowed to extend to purposes other than the case, such as research, or in civil matters such as paternity testing. That the DNA has been collected and is retained in connection with a criminal case and is, therefore, available may prove a temptation to extend its uses to other purposes. This would be unethical and the law (Cr PC) needs to provide that such biological material, and the results drawn from testing it, cannot be used for any other purpose.

This ‘function creep’ is a problem that is inherent in databasing. With DNA, the threat to informational privacy, and the potential for deriving more information different from that for which the DNA was collected, is heightened. Agencies may be tempted to ask for access to databases simply because they exist. This has already been seen in the case of the biometric database built up by the UIDAI.

In January 2013, the rape of a 6-7 year old in a school caused an outcry. The inability of the police to find the offender led to the investigation being handed over to the CBI. In September 2013, the CBI approached the District Magistrate asking that the UIDAI be directed to hand over the entire biometric data base of all persons who had enrolled for a UID in Goa. That was to help them check if the random palm print they had found at the site of the offence would find a match in the UIDAI’s database. It was so ordered. The UIDAI appealed to the Bombay High Court citing, among other grounds, that of privacy. [There was an irony in this: the UIDAI was contesting challenges to its collection, databasing and holding of information which was in the Supreme Court. The UIDAI, in the Goa case, drew on the challenge in the Supreme Court to bolster its case that it not be directed to part with the database. An analysis provides multiple reasons for the UIDAI’s reluctance, but they are not immediately relevant here] The Bombay High Court saw no harm in the head of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory checking the UIDAI database to see if it could indeed produce results. It was the Supreme Court – before whom the UID project had been argued and an order issued that the UID cannot be mandatory for accessing services (order dated September 23, 2013; further order dated March 24, 2014 that stayed the handing over of the database to any agency.

The vulnerability of the database, once it is created, is clear as day in this experience. This possibility is no longer hypothetical. We have, however, no discussions in the committee on the virtues and vulnerabilities of data basing. Once a data base is created, it may be reiterated, limiting access and use will, inevitably, be very difficult – in law and practice. That the Bill under consideration leaves a great deal of discretion with the Data Bank Manager, and the DNA Board, serves to weaken the potential for protection. In any event, database cannot be permitted to be built without simultaneous laws built for privacy, more especially genetic privacy built into law. (See the UK expereicne with privacy law at which deal with genetic and fingerpringting.)

In 2004, when the preliminary draft of the Bill was readied, it was confined to the context of crime. There has been an extraordinary expansion of the reach of the Bill. The 2012 version includes [at clause 32 (4)]

  1. a crime scene index;
  2. a suspects’ index;
  3. an offenders’ index;
  4. a missing person’s index;
  5. unknown deceased persons’ index;
  6. a volunteers’ index and
  7. such other indices as may be specified by the regulations made by the Board.

The last first. The Bill leaves a great deal in the hands of the Board, not to be detailed in the law. This broad power to add “such other indices as may be specified by regulations” cannot be given to the Board. This expansion of indices without public discussion and parliamentary approval leaves too much discretion in the hands of the Board. Given that the implications of DNA information in a databank are grave, this clause will have to be deleted from the proposed law.

Missing persons’ index 

In discussions we had at the Committee, and with the Chairperson of the NCPCR Dr. Shanta Sinha and Member, NCPCR, Ms. Dipa Dixit, the focus was on missing children. The numbers that tumble out from various agencies are alarming. The question was, how far would DNA assist in dealing with this situation. Children who run away from their homes often do so due to reasons – of poverty, familial violence and an aspirational desire that they may find something better somewhere else. The NCRB records the children are abducted/kidnapped and may end up in

child slavery

child prostitution


More recently there have been concerns the missing children we are abducted to have their organs harvested and traded. There is, too, a number, even if very small, who may be ‘stolen’ to be sold into adoption, or stolen by childless or ‘sonless’ persons.

The problem seems to be activated because

  • the reluctance, in many cases, of the police in filing FIRs and conducting investigations – witness the Nithari case
  • an extraordinarily large number of children are from poor families and poverty drives them from their homes
  • investigation, and recovery, of the children has not been a priority in many jurisdictions.

The Nithari episode alerted agencies and organisations such as the Ministry of Women and Child Development (see the Report of the Committee investigating into allegations of large-scale sexual abuse, rape and murder of children in Nithari village of Noida (U.P) (2007), Ministry Women and Child Development and the NHRC (Nithari report of the NHRC at to recommend a series of procedures to protect children. This includes a nationwide tracking system which has been begun but with mixed results. Anecdotally, there is little to suggest that the system has helped trace missing children and reduce the numbers. A downside that we were cautioned about was that the relationship between the local police and children in need of care and protection being fraught in many jurisdictions, being on the database, made the children vulnerable. This needs to be studied in some depth; but, as of now, there is evidence to suggest that creating these databases are not necessarily a step to alleviating the problem.

Our attention was drawn to another set of problems. Relationships within families, we were cautioned, cannot be biologically determined. Our attention was drawn to Section 112 of the Evidence Act and to two decisions of the Supreme Court in Ramkanya Bai v. Bharatram (2010) 1 SCC 85 and Bhabhani Prasad Jena v. Convenor Secretary, Orissa State Commission forWomen (2010) 8 SCC 633 where the court set out the priority of the ‘best interests of the child’ over scientific determinism. The multiple ways in which the relationship between a parent and a child may be denied, established or doubted may include the complexities of adulterous relationships, surrogacy, adoption and even matters such as a blood transfusion. Biological determinism through DNA would be a problem in each of these, and like, situations. In addition, matters concerning errors that could creep into DNA profiling as set out in the section relating to database of convicts, accused, suspects would be relevant here including matters of


chain of custody


Since the records of a child’s encounter with the law is not to be carried into adulthood there are concerns that the stigma of being on the database should be erased upon reaching adulthood.

The question of who is the guardian who speaks on behalf of the child if DNA is to be databased, and what responsibilities they would be invested with to protect the interests of the child, would have to be gone into before such a system of DNA profiling set in place. This is more so because, as is commonly known, DNA is a biometric that not merely may assist in establishing identity, but it can reveal much more about the person – including matters of health. Experts have adverted to the interest that pharmaceutical companies, for instance, have in this information which, if divulged, has serious privacy and public policy consequences.

Unidentified bodies

There are at least two situations where unidentified bodies are matters of public policy concern:

in mass disasters

where people are found dead without anything on them that can help identify them

Mass Disasters

Tsunami, floods and landslides, earthquakes, fires take their toll on human life, and leave a host of problems including a significant one of unidentified bodies. Mass graves, ‘disappeared’ persons and mass industrial disasters are situations which share the trauma of families not knowing the fate of their relatives.

The potential for using DNA technology to identify the dead has been explored in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the destruction of the World Trade Center after the airline attack, in the Latin American initiative for identification of disappeared people (Forensic magazine article).

Deploying DNA technology to identify the remains of unidentified persons in situations of mass disasters could be useful, even within the constraints of human decomposition, decaying samples, storing large numbers of samples, for instance. CDFD too has been involved in using DNA technology to help identify the victims of the Uttarakhand tragedy. Yet, as communicated in an e-mail dated June 25, 2014, there are no protocols in place to meet such situations.

The imperative of operating under protocols and ethical guidelines cannot be over emphasised. The International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances sets out the framework for establishing the protocol. Article 19 of the Convention reads:

International Convention on for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance

Article 19

  1. Personal information, including medical and genetic data, which is collected and/or transmitted within the framework of the search for a disappeared person shall not be used or made available for purposes other than the search for the disappeared person. This is without prejudice to the use of such information in criminal proceedings relating to an offence of enforced disappearance or the exercise of the right to obtain reparation.

  2. The collection, processing, use and storage of personal information, including medical and genetic data, shall not infringe or have the effect of infringing the human rights, fundamental freedoms or human dignity of an individual.”

In addition, the extension of all the ‘privacy principles’ to the protocol must be ensured. This will include the finite retention of the data. As of now, CDFD informs us:

“On your question of destruction of DNA collected from the relatives, I wish to state that the CDFD has so far not destroyed any DNA sample received by it since its inception. These samples are being maintained in safe custody in the institute.”

The protocol would have to be categorical that samples from relatives may be retained until identification of the remains is done, the relative asks for their sample to be destroyed, or a certain pre-set period of time elapses. The first and third conditions mentioned above would apply to the DNA extracted from the unidentified bodies, too. These are time – and situation- bound exercises and the protocols would need to recognise it as such. Unclaimed or samples that remain unidentified beyond a reasonable period of time do not become the data that belongs to any agency, and must not be allowed to be retained beyond the time judged by an ethics or protocol-devising committee to be reasonable, and, under no circumstances may the DNA sample or profile be used for any purpose other than that of identification in the specific circumstance.

This is important because DNA is a biometric from which more information could be extracted, unrelated to the reason for which it was collected. It could provide familial, health and other genetic information which would be unethical and unsafe to be abstracted from the sample.

It is also important to keep the functions of identification and that of research distinct both in terms of the laboratory were the two are carried out and the procedures and personnel involved.

Protocols incorporating the ‘privacy principles’

Protocols incorporating the ‘privacy principles’ may be put in place, and do not have to wait for the enactment of law, especially given that laboratories are already working in disaster areas. But carrying on without protocols and ethical guidelines may not be an option.

Unidentified bodies

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), it was reported in 2011, 2,22, 446 bodies were declared ‘unidentified’. There are apprehensions that there are among these numbers those who are victims of crime; but they are disposed of as unidentified dead, with no investigation to establish the circumstances of death. Unidentified bodies, in this understanding, ought to be treated as a possible scene-of-crime. Investigations must ensue. The collection and data basing of unidentified bodies may be treated akin to situations of mass disasters with this difference, that the DNA recovered from the site will need to be used as part of the case property to investigate if it was, in fact, relatable to a crime.

Reports about how unidentified bodies are treated, however, makes it clear that DNA collection and subsequent procedures would be deeply defective unless fundamental changes are made to the process.

This will require changes in the law of criminal procedure, and training of police and related medical personnel before DNA can be made liable in this context. See, too, a recent report at (Ellen Barry, In a City accustomed…)

This factual situation will have to be considered before making any changes that produces reliance on DNA evidence.

Volunteers’ index

Volunteers might include a range of persons, including relatives of missing persons, police officers who may be on an index for elimination purposes, defence personnel who volunteer to have their DNA stored for a just-in-case scenario. It may include victims; and witnesses or others who may have been at the scene of crime. It may also include persons who volunteer to be part of scientific research, or who part with their DNA in anticipation of health or other information it may reveal about themselves.

One, it is imperative that it is voluntary.

Two, this requires that there is informed consent, which would mean that the person is informed about why the DNA is being collected, how it will be used, that the person may ask at any time for the DNA sample and profiling data to be deleted, the protocol on retention and destruction/deletion of data, and the process for engaging with the data controller. Even with all this, consent is recognised as being an inadequate protection of the health and genetic privacy of individuals and this must be therefore severely protected by law.

Three, since volunteers may be of many hues, it would be necessary to “make separate provision for the collection, use, storage, index matching and destruction of forensic material, and profiles obtained from that material, for each main category of volunteer,” as recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission (2003).

Four, volunteers who volunteer for a scientific purpose should not be tacked on to other purposes. For instance, a volunteer on a missing person’s database should not be placed on a database for research purposes. It was suggested at one of the meetings of the Committee that that will be done with the consent of the volunteer. This cannot, however, be considered to be free and informed consent. A person approaching the service to identify a missing person is likely not to feel free to refuse to be on a more general DNA database; there is an element of duress that must be recognised. Also, this would be opportunistic – where an individual is seeking help to find a missing person – and would militate against both voluntariness and free consent.

Which is to say that when a person gives their DNA as a volunteer for a particular purpose, based on a certain situation, need or expectation, it may not be tacked on to any other database.

“Such other indices”

The draft legislation has a category in Clause 32 (4) (g) that is indefinite, and capable of being interpreted very broadly. It reads: “such other DNA indices as may be specified by regulations made by the Board.”

This broadening of categories for a data bank cannot be permitted to be done regulation. It has to be by law given the highly sensitive nature of DNA, and subject to judicial review. Also, the interests of the scientific community, while it must be regarded with respect, have to be subject to the constitutional rights and legal limits devised for the protection of the individual, of communities, and located in an understanding of ambitions – global and within the country – that data bases are beginning to evoke.

Regulatory agencies

One of the problems that was encountered in the Bill related to regulatory agencies. The DNA Profiling Board sought to be established under the law has a listing of ex-officio members, except for “a renowned molecular biologist” to be appointed as Chairperson. In discussions, it emerged that CDFD necessarily have to have a central role [the Director, CDFD is to be ex-officio Member Secretary, and the head office of the Board is to be at Hyderabad (Clause 3 (3)] in the working of the system being set up by this proposed law. There are a series of functions listed out for the Board in Section 12 after which following chapters invest authority in the Board, illustratively, for permission for a laboratory to perform (S.13), to withdraw approval (S.16) and to specify the fee to be charged.

The Board, in this case, is not a body of disinterested officials unlike, for instance, inspectors under the Factories Act who are responsible for monitoring health and safety and welfare. The CDFD is itself interested in expanding the scope of DNA work, and in research.

While the CDFD is an institution that has acquired a wide credibility over the years it has been in existence, it is equally of concern that it is itself a laboratory that deals with sensitive cases, that there have been errors that have occurred (supra), that there is in fact little experience with setting protocols and following them in their functioning (supra). Further, in the report of the Department of Biotechnology in the run-up to the 11th Plan (2007-2012) and the 12th Plan (20012-2017), the role envisaged for the CDFD is expansive and involves the CDFD in multifarious modes of developing, exponentially, research and deployment of DNA technology.

In discussions with others from the scientific and research establishment, the enlargement of control, and access, the CDFD would have over these other institutions was raised as a concern. And, that supervising the workings of the CDFD would become like an act of self-regulation which, in such a sensitive filed, was unacceptable.

Also, CDFD does both DNA profiling for forensics and research. This brings back to the fore concerns about research and forensic analysis being located together, especially where DNA information is to be data based.


In October 2012, when the Justice A P Shah Committee of experts (of which I was a member) gave its report, it included a section where the draft Bill in its 2007 form was tested against the ‘privacy principles’. This can be found in the report at

To reiterate the privacy principles, in brief, they include:

Principle 1: Notice

Principle 2: Choice and consent

Principle 3: Collection Limitation

Principle 4: Purpose Limitation

Principle 5: Access and correction

Principle 6: (about) Disclosure of information

Principle 7: Security

Principle 8: Openness (about practices, procedures, policies, systems)

Principle 9: Accountability

These are further detailed in the Expert Committee Report. The 2012 draft will have to be revisited to make it compatible with privacy principles. CIS has worked on this in some detail and I would adopt that along with the analysis of the 2007 Bill in the Expert Committee Report as the basis for incorporating privacy concerns.

In addition, and even at the start, it would be imperative to explain

  • the purpose and need for creating databases, and
  • the reason for each of the categories proposed to be databased

DNA and tribals

In my note to the Committee dated September 1, 2013 (attached), the issue of taking blood samples from tribals for purposes of research had been set out. The concern was then set out in somewhat more detail in the Report of the High Level Committee that was set up by the Union Government in August 2013 under the Chairpersonship of Prof. Virginius Xaxa (of which I was a member):

“Genetic studies have been expanding in the scientific community around the world. In

August 2013, it was reported that a geneticist from the Centre for Cellular and

Molecular Biology, Hyderabad had travelled to the Andaman Islands to collect blood

samples from Andamanese tribals. [Dan Kedmey, What DNA Testing Reveals About India’s Caste System, Time, 27 August 2014, available at (Last visited 17.5.2014, 4.30pm)] He reportedly explained that this would ‘help him understand the pivotal moment in India’s genetic history’. The report proceeds to say “the tribesmen had never heard of a gene before or an academic study for that matter, and the whole pitch struck them as an interesting diversion from their usual

routine of spearfishing.” “They mostly laughed,” the geneticist reportedly said, and continues: “before they offered up their arms in exchange for food. A few needle pricks later, they returned to their boats to fling short wooden spears into the water with uncanny aim, while (the geneticist) made the long journey home to Hyderabad. He deposited the latest samples into a blood bank, alongside another 32,000 samples from his countrymen.”(ibid)

There is no mention of the protocols that they follow in collecting the blood sample, and efforts by the committee to secure these protocols failed. The question of consent, especially, is too serious to ignore. This report requires further weight, when considered in the context of the draft Human DNA Profiling Bill, 2012, which proposes to database the DNA of various classes and groups of people.[ This Bill can be viewed on the website of the Department of Biotechnology, available at (Last visited 17.5.2014, 4.30 pm)]”

Further study shows that the concerns about DNA samples from tribal communities, and their varied uses, have been in issue in other jurisdictions too. An article in the January 2009 issue of the Chicago-Kent Law Review by Debra Harry entitled “Indigenous Peoples and Gene Disputes” explores this terrain. The Havasugai case study illustrates the legal and ethical dimensions of DNA science. “For several years now,” writes Debra Harry, “the Havasugai tribe and individual tribal members have been embroiled in the aftermath of unauthorised genetic research performed under the guise of diabetes research. The Havasugai tribe based in northern Arizona provided their blood for use in diabetes research, but later found it was used for studies on schizophrenia, in-breeding and ancient human migration studies.” (p.150)

“Over the past decade,” she writes, “there has been a dramatic increase in genetic research projects that put indigenous peoples front and centre of the research process. Geneticists interests in indigenous peoples’ DNA are many. Indigenous peoples’ DNA is sought for medical, behavioural, large-scale human population studies, and ancient DNA genetic research.” (p.147) The article is revealing of the treatment of indigenous communities as experimental subjects and of the difficulties the communities have in finding a route to restitution and justice.

Any law made relating to DNA must protect the interests of tribal and other vulnerable communities.

The Nuu-chah-nulth narrative in the article speaks of where 900 samples from the community taken for ‘arthritis research’ was transferred to Oxford University by Dr. Ryk Ward, the scientist, without the consent, even the knowledge of the community. This was in the 1980s. It was in 2004, after Dr. Ward’s death, that the samples were returned to the University of British Columbia which had been the University with which Dr Ward was associated when the arthritis research was being done. “A Nuu-chah-nulth research ethics board will oversee any use of the samples in future research. Even though the samples have finally been repatriated, the Nuu-chah-nulth will continue to explore legal options to seek liability and compensation in this case of abject exploitation.” (p.153) [See also,, a newspaper of the First Nations of Canada.]

The dangers of biological determinism, and predictive genetic approaches to science is set out, including the reinforcing of genetic stereotypes of violence, or alcoholism, which, the Maoris, for instance, “denounce….citing ‘social issues, including high unemployment, poor educational achievement and in many cases severe poverty, to be the main contributors to Maori violence rather than a warrior gene.” (pp. 153-54)

The Human Genome Diversity Project has also been subject to angry scrutiny. TSee;

In the context of indigenous people, it has been observed, it is not enough that there is ‘informed consent’, and that that is not enough to meet human rights requirements. This, as the National Academy of Science noted in its evaluation of the Human Genome Diversity Project, “alone cannot justify research on whole populations that will not be able to benefit from it because such research violates basic principles of social justice and equality.” (at p. 157 of Debra Harry’s article)

This demonstrates the complexity and risks in DNA science which law cannot afford to ignore.

UNESCO’s Declaration on the Protection of the Human Genome speaks of group consent, wherever applicable. Research should fully respect human dignity, freedom and human rights. Article 9 of the Declaration says:

“In order to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, limitations to the principles of consent and confidentiality may only be prescribed by law, for compelling reasons within the bounds of public international law and the international law of human rights.”

A panoply of concerns

In addition to what has been stated so far, there are other matters of concern which must be attended to when making decisions about creating a DNA database, and how it is to be used and administered:

Genetic research has to be understood in the context of the market economy.

Patenting of genetic materials is an issue for the law.

Collection, research and patenting of genetic materials by governments, scientific projects, academic institutions, corporations, independent agencies, individual researchers, health organisations are matters that have immense implication for individuals, communities and populations.

The idea of a Research Review Committee has been mooted which will, among other things, ensure procedures of informed consent, protect privacy, govern extraction, use and disposal of bodily or other biological materials, to restrict any unauthorised secondary research, to protect tribal intellectual property over the research findings, and to ensure benefit-sharing arrangements when appropriately generated from research.

The ability to carry away databases has made DNA profiling and databasing even more sensitive.

Function creep is an issue that is recognised in elucidating the privacy principles. Databasing presents a risk of function creep.

There is the further issue of opportunism which databases present as a temptation. The strict and non-negotiable norm that DNA taken for one purpose may not be used for any other purpose, except where, for instance, in in the interests of investigating a crime where unidentified bodies are found, for instance, must be set in law. Courts too should not be permitted to waive this norm. (See, for instance, Section 15 of the Census Act, where such a prohibition has been enacted.)

· The impact of maintaining individual profiles is exacerbated when they are vulnerable populations, such as the mentally ill, children, minorities, dalits. The prejudices of the criminal justice system makes them more vulnerable to be on suspect’ lists andaccused’ lists- so destruction of the data and non-use for any other purpose very important.

·  DNA databases significantly shift the balance of power from the individual to the state, and to corporations and to the scientific establishment.

  • The threat posed by `bio-surveillance’ – anyone who can get a handle on the system could use it – terrorist groups, foreign agencies, in witness protection programmes.

–  Data sharing across borders is becoming increasingly common, adding to the risk of creating databases.

There is an element of eugenics involved in the creation of databases that must be guarded against.

As GeneWatch says in its report:  “DNA databases consist of collections of biological samples (if stored), computerised DNA profiles and other information (such as criminal history and ethnicity) that may be valuable to genetic researchers. However, much research in this area is contentious due to the history of eugenics.” (

The possibility of linking up the DNA database with other `big data systems’ is a matter of deep and abiding concern.

We tried getting information on:

·   Protocol on treatment of DNA as case property

·   Protocols on site preservation

·   Experience of labs with tampering

·   Processes with respect to anonymization, confidentiality

·   Current status of DNA as case property

·   Current practices with respect to destruction of DNA evidence

·   Offences for which DNA evidence will be relevant as evidence

·   Information of when caste was included in the form and any deliberations that led such to decision.

·   The Andaman investigation: what protocols were used in this work?

We were, however, unable to get any of this information, leaving the understanding of the import of this law, in relation to current practice, incomplete.

Some observations from the text:

There is a myth that has developed around DNA that it is infallible. This is not correct.

DNA evidence is probabilistic, not absolute.

DNA evidence cannot be standalone evidence; it needs to be corroborated.

‘Erroneous matches’ due to “false cold to hits”, due to “cross-contamination of samples”, mislabelling of samples”, “misrepresentation of test results” and “typing errors” and “intentional planting of DNA” are also reasons that may lead to DNA evidence being fallible.

Creation of DNA data bases increases the risk of security and confidentiality of data, and provides conditions for the divergence of data for purposes other than that for which it was collected in the first place. Among other things, this would make `consent’ irrelevant and meaningless. The need for databasing has not been explained. Given the acknowledged broken down condition of the criminal investigation system, it is not evident how a DNA data base of convicts will help.

The difference between DNA data basing and DNA profiling is significant and needs to be set out.

Research institutes and labs that do DNA profiling to assist in criminal procedures, and in identified missing or unidentified persons, need to be distinct and separate. Conflating the two increases the risks of databases.

The law will need to be crafted to protect the interests of tribal and other vulnerable populations; merely recording consent will be inadequate.

Consent is a complex phenomenon; DNA profiling, and data basing, wherever it is allowed by law, will have to have the limits and boundaries set in the law itself.

The different categories – such as, convicts , unidentified bodies, volunteers, missing persons – should be maintained as distinct and non-converging categories.

Criminal law, especially criminal procedure, needs amendment to ensure that investigation follows the process with precision and care. This acquires importance with the increase in the use of DNA as evidence in cases of serious crime. Collection, chain of custody, contamination issues must be built into the law. The risk of planting DNA has been recognised, which would lead to serious consequences that the law must recognise and have both safeguards and penalties built into it.

Also, systems of checking for error need to be built into the system and into the law.

Given the mythology that has built itself around DNA evidence, it is imperative that the law clearly state that  DNA evidence is probabilistic, and must be corroborated.

Needs corroboration.

A List of References 

Newspaper articles:

Valley, Jackie. “Metro reviewing DNA cases after error led to wrongful conviction.”  Las Vegas Sun, July 7, 2011.

Gayle, Damien. “DNA blunders mean murderers and rapists could have convictions overturned: Home Office admits misleading evidence has been presented to juries.” Mail Online, September 24, 2014.

Wilson, Amanda. “Mining Your Genetic Data for Profit: The Dark Side of Biobanking.” Pacific Standard, July 29, 2014.

Scutti, Susan. “The government owns your DNA. What are they doing with it?” Newsweek, July 24, 2014.

Mustafa Kamal, Shazwan. “DNA contamination crucial but never addressed, Anwar lawyer argues.” The Malay Mail Online, November 6, 2014.

Clarke, Matt. “Crime Labs in Crisis: Shoddy Forensics Used to Secure Convictions.” Prison Legal News, October 15, 2010.

Polanki, Pallavi. “DNA experts could also be guilty of giving false results.” First Post., October 11, 2012.

Bell, Vaughan. “DNA analysis: far from an open-and-shut case.” The Guardian, October 14, 2012.

Krishna, Gopal. “Biometric profiling, including DNA, is dehumanising -Part 3.” Moneylife, October 11, 2013.–part-iii/34823.html

Hansen, Mark. “Crime labs under the microscope after a string of shoddy, suspect and fraudulent results.” ABA Journal, September 1, 2013.


Journal articles:

Sekharan, P. Chandra. “Truth about Truth Detecting Techniques.” J Forensic Res S11: 002. doi (2013).

Garrett, Brandon L., and Peter J. Neufeld. “Invalid forensic science testimony and wrongful convictions.” Virginia Law Review (2009): 1-97.

Boies, Kimberly Cogdell. “Misuse of DNA Evidence is Not Always a Harmless Error: DNA Evidence, Prosecutorial Misconduct, and Wrongful Conviction.” Tex. Wesleyan L. Rev. 17 (2010): 403.

Garrett, Brandon L., and Peter J. Neufeld. “Invalid forensic science testimony and wrongful convictions.” Virginia Law Review (2009): 1-97.

Thompson, William C., and Edward L. Schumann. “Interpretation of statistical evidence in criminal trials: The prosecutor’s fallacy and the defense attorney’s fallacy.” Law and Human Behavior 11, no. 3 (1987): 167.

Thompson, William C. “The potential for error in forensic DNA testing (and how that complicates the use of DNA databases for criminal identification).” Incouncil for responsible genetics (CRG) National Conference: forensic DNA databases and race: Issues, Abuses and Actions. 2008.

Nance, Dale A., and Scott B. Morris. “Juror Understanding of DNA Evidence: An Empirical Assessment of Presentation Formats for Trace Evidence with a Relatively Small Random‐Match Probability.” The Journal of Legal Studies 34, no. 2 (2005): 395-44

Simoncelli, Tania. “Dangerous excursions: the case against expanding forensic DNA databases to innocent persons.” The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 34, no. 2 (2006): 390-397.

Wallace, H. M., A. R. Jackson, J. Gruber, and A. D. Thibedeau. “Forensic DNA databases–Ethical and legal standards: A global review.” Egyptian Journal of Forensic Sciences 4, no. 3 (2014): 57-63.

Neufeld, Peter. “Legal and ethical implications of post-conviction DNA exonerations.” New Eng. L. Rev. 35 (2000): 639.

Henning, Anna C. “Compulsory DNA Collection: A Fourth Amendment Analysis.” Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 2008.

Cate, Fred H. “Government data mining: The need for a legal framework.” Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review (CR-CL) 43, no. 2 (2008).

Gill, P., C. H. Brenner, J. S. Buckleton, A. Carracedo, M. Krawczak, W. R. Mayr, N. Morling, M. Prinz, P. M. Schneider, and B. S. Weir. “DNA commission of the International Society of Forensic Genetics: Recommendations on the interpretation of mixtures.” Forensic science international 160, no. 2 (2006): 90-101.

Balding, David J., and John Buckleton. “Interpreting low template DNA profiles.” Forensic Science International: Genetics 4, no. 1 (2009): 1-10.

Thompson, William C. “DNA evidence in the OJ Simpson trial.” U. Colo. L. Rev. 67 (1996): 827.

Lindsey, Samuel, Ralph Hertwig, and Gerd Gigerenzer. “Communicating statistical DNA evidence.” Jurimetrics (2003): 147-163.

Rapp, Geoffrey Christopher. “DNA’s Dark Side.” (2000): 163-171.

Simoncelli, Tania. “Dangerous excursions: the case against expanding forensic DNA databases to innocent persons.” The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 34, no. 2 (2006): 390-397.

Murphy, Erin. “The new forensics: Criminal justice, false certainty, and the second generation of scientific evidence.” California Law Review (2007): 721-797.

Pompanon, François, Aurélie Bonin, Eva Bellemain, and Pierre Taberlet. “Genotyping errors: causes, consequences and solutions.” Nature Reviews Genetics 6, no. 11 (2005): 847-846.

Thompson, William C. “Tarnish on the “gold standard”: Understanding recent problems in forensic DNA testing.” The Champion 30, no. 1 (2006): 10-16.

Dror, Itiel E., and Greg Hampikian. “Subjectivity and bias in forensic DNA mixture interpretation.” Science & Justice 51, no. 4 (2011): 204-208.

Schneider, Peter M. “Scientific standards for studies in forensic genetics.” Forensic science international 165, no. 2 (2007): 238-243.

Verma, Sunil K., and Gajendra K. Goswami. “DNA Evidence: Current Perspective and Future Challenges in India.” Forensic Science International 224, no. 1 (2012).

Murangira, Thierry, and Bhakare Jyoti. “DNA Technology: The Technology of Justice-Current and Future Need.” Research Journal of Recent Sciences _____________________________________________________________ ISSN 2277 (2012): 2502.

Amorim, Antonio. “Opening the DNA black box: demythologizing forensic genetics.” New Genetics and Society 31, no. 3 (2012): 259-270.

Toom, Victor. “Producing suspects. The politics of the National DNA Database of England and Wales.” (2010): 387-391.

Wilson-Kovacs, Dana, David Wyatt, and Christine Hauskeller. ““A Faustian bargain?” Public voices on forensic DNA technologies and the National DNA Database.” New Genetics and Society 31, no. 3 (2012): 285-298.

Hochschild, Jennifer, Alex Crabill, and Maya Sen. “Political and Policy Implications of Technology Optimism about Genomic Science.” In APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper. 2012.

Lynch, Michael. “Science, truth, and forensic cultures: The exceptional legal status of DNA evidence.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44, no. 1 (2013): 60-70.

Cole, Simon A. “Forensic identification evidence.” Criminology & Public Policy 9, no. 2 (2010): 375-379.

Santos, Filipe. “Making sense of the story–the dialogues between the police and forensic laboratories in the construction of DNA evidence.” New Genetics and Society 33, no. 2 (2014): 181-203.

Government and think tank reports:

U.K. Home Office. Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.

UNESCO. “International Declaration on Human Genetic Data.”  (2003).

GeneWatch, U. K. “The Police National DNA Database: Balancing Crime Detection, Human Rights and Privacy.” (2005).

Council for Responsible Genetics. “Overview and concerns regarding the Indian Draft DNA Profiling Act.” 

Center for Internet and Society. “Draft Human DNA Profiling Bill (April 2012): High Level Concerns.”

U.S. Dept. of Justice. “The FBI DNA Laboratory:  A Review of Protocol and Practice Vulnerabilities.”

DNA Advisory Board. “Quality assurance standards for forensic DNA testing laboratories.” Forensic Sci Commun 2, no. 3 (2000).

Nuffield Council on Bioethics. “The forensic use of bioinformation: ethical issues.”  (September 2007).

NDNAD U.K Ethics Group. “Minutes of meeting held on 17 June, 2014.”

Government of India. “The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2005. (June 23, 2005).,2005.pdf

Council for Responsible Genetics. “Genetic privacy and Non-forensic biobanks.” (August, 2014).

Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties. “Letter to NHRC – Stop DNA profiling of citizens.” (May 31, 2012).

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008.” (May 21, 2008).

The Police National DNA Database: Balancing Crime Detection, Human Rights and Privacy, a Report by Gene Watch, UK, January 2005.


Hindmarsh, Richard, and Barbara Prainsack, eds. Genetic suspects: global governance of forensic DNA profiling and databasing. Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Roberts, Dorothy. Fatal invention: How science, politics, and big business re-create race in the twenty-first century. The New Press, 2011.

Lemke, Thomas. Perspectives on Genetic Discrimination. Vol. 100. Routledge, 2013.


Shelton, Hon Donald. Forensic Science in Court: Challenges in the Twenty First Century. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2010.

Aas, Katja Franko, Helene Oppen Gundhus, and Heidi Mork Lomell, eds. Technologies of InSecurity: the surveillance of everyday life. Routledge, 2008.

Lazer, David, ed. DNA and the criminal justice system: The technology of justice. MIT Press, 2004.

Balding, David J. Weight-of-evidence for Forensic DNA Profiles. John Wiley & Sons, 2005.

Gerards, Janneke H., Aalt Willem Heringa, and Heleen L. Janssen. Genetic discrimination and genetic privacy in a comparative perspective. Vol. 51. Intersentia nv, 2005.

Wall, Wilson. Forensic science in court: the role of the expert witness. John Wiley & Sons, 2009.

Aronson, Jay. Genetic witness: science, law, and controversy in the making of DNA profiling. Rutgers University Press, 2007.

Lynch, Michael, Simon A. Cole, Ruth McNally, and Kathleen Jordan. Truth machine: the contentious history of DNA fingerprinting. University of Chicago Press, 2010.

Nanda, B. B., and R. K. Tewari. Forensic Science in India: A Vision for the Twenty-first Century. Select Publishers, 2001.

Daniel J.Kevles and Leroy Hood (eds). Scientific and Social Issues in the Human genome Project. Harvard University Press, 1992.

Andrei Semikhodskii. Dealing with DNA Evidence: A legal guide. Routledge, 2007.

Hilary Rose and Steven Rose. Genes, Cells and Brains: The promethean promises of the new biology. Verso, 2012.

Kaushik Sunder Rajan. Biocapital: The constitution of postgenomic life. Duke University Press, 2006.

Peyton Budd with Dorothy Budd. Tested: How twelve wrongly convicted men held onto hope. Brown Books Publishing Group, 2010.

Cases and judgments:

European Court of Human Rights. “Case of S. and Marper v. TheUnited Kingdom.” (December 4, 2008).{%22itemid%22:[%22001-90051%22]}

Delhi High Court. “State Vs. Ravi Kumar & Ors.” (August 16, 2014).

Supreme Court of India. “Lokniti Foundation Vs. Union of India.” (July 14, 2014).

Northern Ireland Crown Court. “The Queen Vs. Sean Hoey.” (December 20, 2007).

U.S. Supreme Court. “Maryland Vs. King.” (June 3, 2013).

Court of Additional Sessions Judge/Special Judge, Anti-corruption, C.B.I. Ghaziabad. “The State of U.P. through the C.B.I. Vs. Rajesh Talwar & Another.”  (December 26, 2013).

Supreme Court of India. “Surendra Kohli Vs. State of U.P.” (February 15, 2011).

Delhi High Court. “Rohit Shekhar Vs. Narayan Dutt Tiwari & Anr.” (April 27, 2012).

Delhi High Court. “Ram Singh & Ors. Vs. State of NCT of Delhi.” (March 7, 2013).


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  1. […] Ramanathan, Usha (2015): “Notes on the Human DNA Profiling Bill 2012 Presented to the Committee Set Up to Discuss the Draft Bill and to Make Suggestions on the Draft Bill,” 9 November, available at… […]

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