India may soon have DNA database to crack crime

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    CHENNAI: The FBI has a DNA index system. The UK has a similar database. And if Parliament passes the DNA Profiling Bill, 2007, India will soon join the league, creating a national DNA database that will help police arrest serial offenders and give a boost to forensic investigation.

    "The bill, drafted and sent to all ministries and departments for their feedback, has been modified. The final version has been sent to the law ministry, which has sent it to the legal department for final drafting," says Dr J Gowrishankar, head of Laboratory of Bacterial Genetics and director, Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD), which has been piloting the bill. "We are hoping it will be submitted to the cabinet in a few weeks."

    Six regional laboratories — to be established in Kolkata, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Pune and Guwahati — will facilitate the exchange and comparison of forensic DNA profiles created from evidence gathered from crime investigations and convicts. The move to create the database is part of the 11th Plan and has a financial outlay of Rs 42.6 crore.

    The role of the database would be to compile profiles of convicts, undertrials and suspects as well as from material obtained from crime scenes.
    "At present, India does not have a law that empowers the government to collect and store DNA profiles of convicts," says V K Kashyap, director of Directorate of Forensic Science, New Delhi. The DNA Profiling Bill, drafted by the department of biotechnology, will bridge this gap.

    DNA profiles of those convicted for crimes like murder, sexual assault and burglaries can be prepared, says Kashyap. "In crimes like murder and sexual assault, there is a tendency on the part of the criminal to repeat offences if not convicted," he says.

    "Once the DNA profile of a criminal is created, then the next time a similar crime occurs, you can run it through the database and get a match," he says. This would also help increase the rate of conviction.

    Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), found in almost every cell in the body, contains genetic information that helps determine physical characteristics. Forensic scientists analyse biological matter like blood, saliva and semen found at crime scenes to establish the identity of the victim or offender.

    India may soon have DNA database to crack crime
     
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