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DNA Tech a double-edged sword: Experts

A seminar on ‘Human DNA Profiling Bill’ triggered a debate about its political and legal dimensions

Published: 28th November 2012 09:22 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th November 2012 09:22 AM   |  A+A-

Government-Law-College,

“Like any modern technology, DNA technology too has two sides. Only strict regulations and responsible use can prevent violations of human rights,” said, K Padmakumar, Inspector-General of Police, Kochi Range.

He was delivering the  keynote address at a seminar on ‘Human DNA Profiling  Bill-2012’ organised by the Justice Club of Government Law College on Tuesday.

“It can be used for scientific investigations and can help find real culprits. Application of the technology in sexual crimes like rape, assault and disputed paternity cases shows the gender-friendly nature of it. The technology is also good to track anti-social activities. At the same time if misused, it can violate the privacy and dignity of individuals,” the IG said.

District police surgeon Dr Biju James spoke mainly about the scientific and technical aspects of DNA technology.  The seminar generated a vibrant debate about the political, legal and social dimensions of the bill. The participants raised concerns about the possible misuse of the technology to brand certain individuals and communities as people with ‘criminal traits’.

This kind of branding can cause social ostracisation and the resultant deep social alienation. Many fear that the insensitive and non-secular individuals in responsible positions can misuse the technology. References were made to the infamous way in which British colonial masters branded  certain tribes of Northern and Central India as ‘criminal tribes’.

Some participants felt that in a country like India where pre-modern and feudal relations persist, knowledge of an individual’s exact social background can damage the institution of an arranged marriage. The present  generation might be harassed or unfairly treated for the mistakes and wrongdoings of their forefathers.

The bill, drafted by the Department of Biotechnology, legalises the collection, analysis and storage of DNA samples of citizens for improving scientific investigation about crimes.

A Saroja, Principal, Law College, presided over the meet. Bindhu Nambiar, associate professor, welcomed the gathering. Premraj, chairman, Students Union, proposed a vote of thanks.



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