DNA Profiling: Significance and Challenges

DNA Profiling: Significance and Challenges

International law

Most of the nations have enacted laws dealing with DNA profiling within the framework of their constitutional and other legal principles,particularly for dealing with the criminal cases.

United Kingdom: DNA profiling was first used in a criminal case in England in 1986 DNA samples collected from the men living and working within the neighborhood of two rape and murder scenes resulted in two positive outcomes. The one man initially convicted was proved to be innocent and the guilty criminal was caught, one year later.

United States of America: The Federal Bureau of Investigation in early 1990‟s designed the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) with the purpose of amalgamating forensic sciences and computer technology into an effectual apparatus for solving serious crimes.

In Andrews v. State of Florida, the DNA evidence was accompanied by Andrew‟s regular fingerprints left on a windowsill, and his identification by the most recent victim in a photo-lineup. In this case, the strong DNA evidence was admitted.

Constitution of India

Currently, there are no concrete regulations in India to do with the eligibility of DNA Profiling or forensics. Though there are certain provisions of the Code of Criminal procedure and Indian Evidence Act, 1872 regulating medical and technological matters.

Section 53A of the Criminal Procedure Code is newly added by the CrPC Amendment of 2005, it states a detailed medical examination of a person accused of an offense of rape or an attempt to commit rape by the registered medical practitioner at the request of a police officer in good faith for the propose of the investigation.

Section 164A of the Criminal Procedure Code added by the CrPC Amendment of 2005, talks about the medical examination of a rape victim by a registered medical practitioner with the consent of the victim.

Section 27(1) of Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002, states that an investigating officer has power to requests to the court in writing for obtaining a sample of handwriting, fingerprints, footprints, blood, saliva, semen, hair, etc of an accused person, who is involved in the commission of an offense under the act and it shall be lawful for the court to direct such samples to be given by the accused person through a medical practitioner.

Section 45 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, deals with Opinions of experts —When the Court has to form an opinion upon a point of foreign law or of science or art, or as to the identity of handwriting, the opinions upon that point of persons specially skilled in such foreign law, science or art, or in questions as to the identity of are relevant facts. Such persons are called experts.

section 112 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872 provides that any child born during the continuance of a valid marriage or within 280 days after marriage being dissolved and the mother is also not remarried again, and then it will be conclusive proof that the child is the legal child of the person to whom the mother is married.

Conflict between fundamental rights and admissibility of DNA profiling evidence

The legitimateness of DNA profiling in India remains somewhat dicey, competing between justice and privacy. The Court’s right to order a person to take a DNA test can violate the Right to privacy under Article 21 and Right against Self-incrimination under Article 20(3) of the Indian constitution, which shields an offender from presenting evidence against him. And this is why the Indian courts are often hesitant to consider proof based on DNA profiling techniques.

In regards to Govind Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh, the Supreme Court held that the fundamental rights must be limited on the grounds of public interest. In any circumstance, if the constitutional rights of the parties are in dispute then it is the responsibility of the court to find a middle ground. On this basis, numerous cases were decided by the Indian courts that authorized the use of DNA technology as evidence.

State of Bombay v. Kathi Kalu Oghad and Anr., it was held that compelling a person to give any forensic evidence like fingerprints, hair, semen, doesn’t contravene Article 20(3). Likewise, the court in Rohit Shekhar v. N. D. Tiwari held that collection of DNA samples or compelling to undergo DNA Test in paternity lawsuits are not infringing any fundamental rights as it would not be made public and will be confidential for the sake of justice. But in Kamti Devi v.Poshi Ram, the Supreme Court dismissed DNA proof by stating that while the result of a genuine DNA test is claimed to be scientifically correct, but it is not enough to escape from the conclusiveness of Section 112 of the Evidence Act, 1872.


  • The ethical implications of catching criminals based on searches of their family’s DNA (as exemplified in the Wisconsin case noted earlier). Nature, the weekly scientific magazine, highlights a number of such instances and the fact that most people who use genealogy databases are unaware that law enforcement may be able to subpoena their information.
  • There are also privacy concerns when it comes to law enforcement storing DNA data from convicted criminals. Storing an individual’s DNA, even if they have been convicted of a crime, can be seen as a violation of a basic human right to privacy.
  • DNA profiling is the procedure itself. Although very accurate, it is not 100% foolproof. A partial DNA profile (one that is not complete), for example, may match with multiple people and should not serve as conclusive evidence.
  • DNA can also be abused, misused, or misunderstood, causing miscarriages of justice. In 2011, a careless lab error resulted in an innocent man being charged with rape because his DNA was erroneously found to match a sperm sample taken from the victim. It later became clear that the lab had mixed up its files.


The technique of DNA profiling is effective; its impact on the administration of justice will be huge if perfectly implemented. This will at least lower down the burden of pendency of cases mostly in regards to criminal trials. In addition, it should be acknowledged that DNA evidence not only convicts an individual but also acquit from false charges. In doing so, the Court must ensure that justice is assured to all sides while taking advantage of such forensic technology.


DNA profiling was first proposed by Sir Alec Jeffreys in 1984 when he found that individuals could be differentiated on the basis of readily detectable differences in their DNA. DNA profiling was first used in a criminal case in the UK in theinvestigation of the 1983 and 1986 rapes and murders of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth. In this case, Richard Buckland was exonerated through DNA analysis in 1987 and Colin Pitchfork was subsequently convicted.

DNA is composed of four chemical constituents (labelled A, T, C and G), known as bases, attached to a sugar backbone which can form a strand millions of bases long. There are two such strands in DNA, which run in opposite directions. Thebases pair up to form a twisted ladder. Each base pairsexclusively with one other base on the opposite strand: A to T and G to C. This means that when the strands separate, each one can act as a template to reproduce the other precisely. The linear sequence of bases can act as a code, providing the instructions for many biological functions.

Significance ;

The process can be used to identify potential suspects and link suspects to a crime, proving they were at a certain place. DNA profiling also enhances the criminal system’s accuracy. Eyewitness accounts are unreliable, particularly in high-pressure situations during the commission of a crime. In the article “The Neuroscience of Memory: Implications for the Courtroom,” researchers note that memory distortions can cast doubt on eyewitness testimony. By comparison, DNA is scientifically accurate and thus more difficult to dispute.

It’s clear that advances in DNA collection and analysis, combined with the power of DNA technology, have in many ways transformed the criminal justice system. However, it’s important to note that although DNA profiling is highly accurate and can play a big role in catching criminals, it’s only one part of the overall criminal justice process.

It takes more than DNA to convict a person of a crime. Forensic psychology remains an integral part of the process, for example. This application of psychology in the legal field is central to deepening law enforcement’s understanding of criminal behavior. Forensic psychologists can help answer questions such as who committed a crime and why. It can also help discern why a person committed a crime in a certain manner — for instance, by opting for a particular weapon. Forensic psychologists also deal with the impact of crimes on victims and may work in victim advocacy.

Objective of paper

1. To understand the legal framework about DNA profiling.
2. What all are the challenges faced by DNA profilings
3. To understand the importance of DNA profiling
4. To know the usage of DNA Profiling in criminal law

Key words

1. DNA: DNA is an acronym, which stands for deoxyribonucleic acid
2. DNA fingerprinting: DNA fingerprinting is a technique that simultaneously detects lots of minisatellites in the genome to produce a pattern unique to an individual.
3. DNA profiling: DNA profiling is a forensic technique in criminal investigations, comparing criminal suspects’ profiles to DNA evidence so as to assess the likelihood of their involvement in the crime
4. Psychology: the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behaviour in a given context.
5. Forensic Psychology : Forensic psychology is the branch of psychology concerned with the production and application of psychological knowledge and principles within the legal process.

Structure of the paper

Part 1 – international and national law viewpoint about DNA profiling

Part 2 – criticisms and shortcomings

Part 3 – conclusion / suggestions

Part 4 – introduction

Part 5 – objectives of the paper and key words

Author: teena tanwar,
manav rachna university

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