DNA evidence has revolutionized the landscape of criminal investigations globally, including in India. Its precision and reliability make it a cornerstone of modern forensic science, aiding in the identification of suspects, exoneration of the innocent, and providing irrefutable evidence in court. This article explores the impact of DNA evidence on criminal investigations in India, highlighting relevant laws and sections, and examining its influence on the judicial process.

The Science of DNA Evidence

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) is the hereditary material in humans, containing the genetic instructions essential for the development, functioning, and reproduction of all living organisms. Each individual’s DNA is unique (except in the case of identical twins), making it an invaluable tool for identification. In forensic science, DNA evidence can be collected from various sources, including blood, saliva, hair, skin cells, and other bodily substances.

Legal Framework Governing DNA Evidence in India

The Indian legal system has gradually embraced DNA evidence, recognizing its potential to transform the judicial process. Key legislations and sections relevant to the use of DNA evidence in criminal investigations include:

  1. The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (IEA):
    • Section 45: This section deals with the opinions of experts. In the context of DNA evidence, forensic experts’ opinions are admissible in court, provided they are relevant to the case.
    • Section 73: It allows the court to direct a person to submit to medical examination, which can include DNA testing.
  2. The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC):
    • Section 53: This section empowers a police officer to request the examination of an accused by a medical practitioner, which includes DNA profiling.
    • Section 164A: This section pertains to the medical examination of the victim of a rape case, which can include the collection of DNA evidence.
  3. The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019:
    • This Bill aims to regulate the use of DNA technology for establishing the identity of individuals in criminal and civil proceedings. It proposes the establishment of a National DNA Data Bank and a Regional DNA Data Bank. Although not yet enacted, this Bill signifies a significant step towards a comprehensive legal framework for DNA evidence in India.

Impact on Criminal Investigations

  1. Identification and Apprehension of Suspects: DNA evidence plays a crucial role in identifying suspects, especially in cases where traditional methods fall short. For instance, in sexual assault cases, the presence of DNA can link a suspect to the crime scene or victim, thereby strengthening the prosecution’s case.
  2. Exoneration of the Innocent: One of the most profound impacts of DNA evidence is its ability to exonerate individuals wrongfully accused or convicted of crimes. There have been several instances in India where DNA evidence has led to the acquittal of innocent individuals, highlighting its role in ensuring justice.
  3. Cold Cases and Unsolved Crimes: DNA evidence has proven instrumental in solving cold cases that have remained unresolved for years. With advancements in DNA technology, even minute samples collected years ago can now be analyzed, providing new leads in otherwise stagnant investigations.
  4. Corroborative Evidence: In addition to identifying suspects, DNA evidence serves as corroborative evidence, supporting other forms of evidence such as eyewitness testimony or circumstantial evidence. This multi-faceted approach strengthens the overall prosecution case.

Challenges and Considerations

Despite its numerous advantages, the use of DNA evidence in India faces several challenges:

  1. Collection and Preservation: The integrity of DNA evidence is paramount. Improper collection, contamination, or degradation can render the evidence inadmissible in court. Therefore, law enforcement agencies must be trained in the meticulous handling and preservation of DNA samples.
  2. Privacy Concerns: The collection and storage of DNA profiles raise significant privacy issues. There is a need for robust legal safeguards to prevent misuse and unauthorized access to DNA data. The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019, addresses some of these concerns by proposing stringent guidelines for the handling of DNA information.
  3. Judicial Acceptance: While Indian courts have increasingly accepted DNA evidence, there is still variability in its reception. Judges and legal practitioners must be adequately trained to understand the nuances of DNA evidence, ensuring its appropriate interpretation and application in legal proceedings.
  4. Infrastructure and Resources: The effective use of DNA evidence requires sophisticated laboratories and skilled personnel. Many regions in India lack the necessary infrastructure and resources, leading to delays and backlogs in forensic analysis. Investment in forensic science facilities and training is essential to harness the full potential of DNA evidence.

Notable Cases in India

Several high-profile cases in India have highlighted the pivotal role of DNA evidence:

  1. Nirbhaya Case (2012): The brutal gang rape and murder of a young woman in Delhi saw the use of DNA evidence to conclusively link the accused to the crime. The DNA profiles matched the samples collected from the crime scene and the victim, playing a crucial role in securing convictions.
  2. Priyadarshini Mattoo Case (1996): In this case, DNA evidence was instrumental in overturning an initial acquittal. The DNA analysis matched the accused’s profile with the samples collected from the victim, leading to a conviction in the subsequent trial.
  3. Swami Premananda Case (1994): Involving multiple charges of rape and murder, DNA evidence was critical in corroborating the testimonies of the victims. The DNA profiles matched the samples collected from the accused, resulting in his conviction.

Future Prospects and Recommendations

The future of DNA evidence in India looks promising, with ongoing advancements in forensic science and increasing legal recognition. To further enhance its impact, the following measures are recommended:

  1. Legislative Action: The prompt enactment of the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019, is essential to provide a comprehensive legal framework governing DNA evidence.
  2. Capacity Building: Investment in forensic infrastructure and training programs for law enforcement and judiciary personnel is crucial. This will ensure the efficient collection, analysis, and interpretation of DNA evidence.
  3. Public Awareness: Raising awareness among the public about the significance and reliability of DNA evidence can foster greater trust in the criminal justice system.
  4. International Collaboration: Engaging with international forensic science communities and adopting best practices can help India stay abreast of the latest developments in DNA technology.


DNA evidence has undeniably transformed criminal investigations in India, offering a powerful tool for ensuring justice. Its ability to accurately identify perpetrators, exonerate the innocent, and solve cold cases underscores its value in the judicial process. However, the full potential of DNA evidence can only be realized through robust legal frameworks, infrastructure development, and continuous capacity building. As India progresses in integrating DNA technology into its criminal justice system, it stands to benefit immensely from the precision and reliability that DNA evidence brings to the table.

~ Adv. Khanak Sharma

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