Right To Privacy

Centre withdraws DNA Bill


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: DNA

Mains level: Genetic Profiling, Issues


Central Idea

  • The Union government recently withdrew the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019, from the Lok Sabha.

DNA Bill, 2019: Highlights

  • The Bill, first proposed in 2003, aims to establish a regulatory framework for obtaining, storing, and testing DNA samples of individuals, primarily for criminal investigations and establishing identity.
  • Over the years, the Bill has undergone changes and was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee in 2019.
  • The committee raised concerns about potential misuse based on religion, caste, or political views.

Key Features

  • Objective: The Bill sought to create a regulatory framework for DNA sample collection, testing, and storage, primarily for criminal investigations and establishing a person’s identity.
  • Existing Uses of DNA Technology: DNA testing is already employed for criminal investigations, parentage establishment, and locating missing individuals.
  • Proposed Institutional Structures: The Bill aimed to establish a DNA regulatory board and a DNA data bank at the national level, with the possibility of regional centers at the state level.
  • Role of the DNA Regulatory Board: The board would frame guidelines and rules for DNA collection, testing, and storage.
  • DNA Data Bank: The data bank would store all DNA samples collected under specified rules.
  • Restricted Testing: DNA sample testing would be allowed only at laboratories authorized by the regulatory board.
  • Handling of DNA Samples: The Bill specified the circumstances under which individuals could be asked to submit DNA samples, the purposes for such requests, and the exact procedures for handling, storing, and accessing these samples.

Controversies and Objections against the Bill:

  • Reliability of DNA Technology: Critics raised concerns about the foolproof nature of DNA technology and its potential for error.
  • Risk of Misuse: The main debate centered on the possibility of abuse of DNA information. Detractors feared that intrusive DNA data collection and storage could lead to misuse and violations of individual privacy.
  • Privacy Concerns: DNA information reveals not only a person’s identity but also physical and biological attributes such as eye, hair, or skin color, susceptibility to diseases, and possible medical history. Critics argued that storing such personal information could compromise privacy rights.

Standing Committee’s Concerns

  • Technical and Sensitive Nature: The Standing Committee’s report acknowledged that the Bill was technical, complex, and sensitive.
  • Addressing Fears: The report recognized and addressed concerns expressed by several members about the potential misuse of DNA technology based on factors like religion, caste, or political views.

Government’s Defense of the Bill

  • International Precedents: The government argued that nearly 60 countries have enacted similar legislation, justifying the need for such a law in India.
  • Limited Information Storage: The government contended that only a limited set of numbers, just 17 out of the billions that DNA samples can reveal, would be stored in the indices. This information would act as a unique identifier and not reveal any personal details.


  • The withdrawal of the Bill marks a pause in the government’s efforts to create a regulatory framework for DNA technology usage.
  • The controversies and objections raised highlight the need for a balanced approach.
  • The Centre must address concerns over misuse and privacy while harnessing the potential benefits of DNA technology for criminal investigations and other purposes.

Back2Basics: DNA

  • DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is a molecule that carries the genetic instructions necessary for the growth, development, functioning, and reproduction of all known living organisms and many viruses.
  • It is often referred to as the “building blocks of life.”

Key features of DNA include:

  1. Molecular Structure: DNA is a double-stranded molecule, consisting of two long chains of nucleotides that form a double helix. Each nucleotide consists of a sugar molecule (deoxyribose), a phosphate group, and one of four nitrogenous bases: adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C), and guanine (G).
  2. Base Pairing: The two DNA strands are held together by hydrogen bonds between complementary base pairs. Adenine (A) always pairs with thymine (T), and cytosine (C) always pairs with guanine (G).
  3. Genetic Code: The sequence of nucleotide bases along the DNA strand constitutes the genetic code, which determines the specific traits and characteristics of an organism.
  4. Genes: DNA is organized into specific segments called genes, which are responsible for encoding proteins or functional RNA molecules. Proteins play a crucial role in various biological processes, while RNA molecules contribute to gene expression and protein synthesis.
  5. Replication: DNA has the unique ability to replicate itself through a process called DNA replication. During cell division, the DNA unwinds, and each strand serves as a template for the synthesis of a new complementary strand, resulting in two identical DNA molecules.
  6. Inheritance: DNA is passed from one generation to the next through reproduction, ensuring the transmission of genetic information from parents to offspring.
  7. Role in Protein Synthesis: DNA provides the instructions for protein synthesis through a two-step process. First, the information in a gene is transcribed into a messenger RNA (mRNA) molecule. Then, the mRNA is translated by ribosomes in the cell to produce specific proteins.
  8. Genetic Variation: Mutations, or changes in the DNA sequence, can lead to genetic variation within a species. These variations are essential for evolution and adaptation to changing environments.

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