Maharashtra to be the first state to have DNA databank in India

Mumbai: A major IT firm along with Maharashtra Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) is building a tool for storage of DNA profile of criminals to help police investigations dealing serious crimes against women and children. Maharashtra will be the first Indian state to start DNA database which will also help law enforcement agencies in tracking maoists as well as terrorists besides repeat offenders.

A senior IPS officer has confirmed the development and added that Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is yet to happen in this regard. “The IT firm is preparing a tool for DNA profiling. The DNA profiling is a very strong evidence because it will lead to quicker arrest of repeat offenders and exoneration of innocent suspects. This DNA profiling will also help increasing the conviction rate, which is alarmingly low at present in India,” the IPS officer told the Free Press Journal.

Almost all developed countries including the USA, Canada, Australia, UK, NZ as well as majority of the European countries have DNA database. Even the China has started preparing DNA database for criminals.

“We are trying to build DNA fingerprint tool – a complete software platform – along with FSL for storage of fingerprint and matching of DNA fingerprinting data. We are trying to build that system in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode with FSL. It will be useful eventually in increasing conviction rate. In developed countries there is fingerprinting database and the rate of conviction is as high as 70 to 80 percent. In India the conviction rate is very low (hardly 15-30 percent). In India, currently, the DNA bill has yet not been presented in Parliament but we believe that even if the Bill comes we will need a system so that the Bill can be implemented smoothly,” said Abhay Jere, Associate Vice-President of the IT firm.

The MoU will happen with Maharashtra government and the funding will be done by the Central Government. The project has been submitted before Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the MoU is likely to happen very soon as the documents have been sent to Additional Chief Secretary of Maharashtra government for approval. “There is very high possibility that the central government’s CSIR might support it because we have already cleared two rounds of evaluation and they are waiting for this MoU to happen to take the discussion forward,” Jere said.

The DNA databank will store genetic information under several possible indices including crime scene, suspects and under trials, history sheeters, unidentified bodies, etc. “After you sequence the DNA either the samples of hair, semen, blood, etc you get at the crime scene, you need to match the algorithms, for which a tool is required to retrieve and match the information with the sample. So we are trying to build that platform,” added Jere. “If the MoU is signed, Maharashtra will be the first state to come up with the indigenous database for DNA fingerprinting and matching with complete platform which will be role model for other states to follow,” he said.

DNA database will help investigating serious crime against women and children, Maoism as well as terrorism. “We are going to do a small start with Maharashtra to make it as a role model for other states. Other states will also replicate it and finally we have a central database of the criminals. But for this we first need to DNA Bill,” he said.

In the lack of central system to track repeat offenders, the criminals go from one state to another to evade arrest after committing crime. So, eventually, a pan India database will help in tracking serious criminals because they are major repeat offenders.

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Free Press Journal