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Maharashtra set up first DNA databank in India

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,” informed the IPS officer .

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.


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