Use of DNA Evidence in Criminal Justice System


The introduction of DNA evidence has revolutionized the world of crime solving because it provides police with a powerful weapon to identify the guilty whilst clearing the innocent. DNA analysis enables identification of individuals from even the smallest biological sample Today, DNA analysis is an indispensable tool in forensic science since its possible implementation was first realized in the mid-1980s. With this technology’s astonishing increase in forensic evidence accuracy and reliability, we have a diminished percentage of wrongful convictions, and an increased percent of rightful convictions. An additional effect of the use of DNA evidence is that courts now expect to see it in more cases meaning standards have increased. This article explores the limitations and difficulties associated with DNA evidence as well as its historical evolution and use in criminal investigations.


DNA Molecule was first identified around the 1860, which is when DNA analysis started. However, the significance of DNA at its most basic level was not realized until 1953. In 1953, biologists James Watson and Francis Crick found DNA’s famous double-helix structure. The discovery enabled further developments in DNA research. Molecular biologists were thus able to replicate a minute amount of DNA into the billions thanks to technique and methods such as Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) which was produced in 1980s. This allowed an examination of even the smallest fragments of biological evidence found at crime scenes. A young geneticist named Alec Jeffreys employed genetic information to solve a double murder in the UK in 1986 as the first time it was used in legal matters. On the basis of individual DNA, Jeffreys invented a technique he called “genetic fingerprinting” which could be used for identification purposes. This method quickly gained popularity and was frequently applied in forensic investigations.

DNA is unique to every person except identical twins, forming the basis of scientific principles of DNA analysis. By analysing selected segments of DNA molecule referred to as genetic markers, forensic scientists can generate a statistically different DNA profile for an individual. After that, if such suspect matches this particular profile, it may be checked against evidence obtained within any crime scene that was being investigated for any particular crime.


When traditional procedures are ineffective for identifying suspects in crimes like murder, rape, and theft, DNA evidence has shown to be a valuable tool. Sexual offences against women are one of the major crimes that occur nowadays and are growing at a startling rate. The investigator faces a number of difficulties while dealing with rape cases that result in homicide. Scientific investigation is crucial, particularly the victim’s and the accused’s/culprit’s DNA tests. DNA is essential for verifying the evidence, the offender, and the victim. A number of high-profile rape and brutal murder cases in India have resulted in successful convictions thanks to DNA evidence. Examples of these cases include the Tandoor case (also known as the Naina Sahni case), Priyadarshini matoo case, Shradhhananda case, and Nirbhaya case (which prompted several legal reforms and amendments). The aforementioned instances indicate that DNA profiling has shown to be a highly effective instrument in identifying a culprit in situations when traditional techniques proved to be ineffective.

DNA plays a role, in paternity disputes as it offers a way to establish biological connections. DNA paternity testing involves comparing the profiles of the alleged father, mother and child using samples typically taken from cheek swabs or blood. These samples are then analyzed for markers to determine the probability of parentage with a high probability indicating a biological relationship.

The method boasts accuracy with a 99.99% likelihood, in cases where the presumed father’s indeed the biological parent of the child.


DNA profiling has become an important law enforcement tool in Indian criminal investigations, although its legal structure is still evolving. The Fundamental Rights of the Indian Constitution safeguard against self-incrimination (Article 20(3)) and unlawful deprivation of personal liberty (Article 21). DNA typing must be satisfying these constitutional requirements and the golden triangle rule as laid down in Maneka Gandhi case. In Sharda v. Dharmpal, the Supreme Court endorsed this position particularly when it was hearing a matrimonial court which could order medical tests without violation of Article 21. Section 53 and 53A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) authorize DNA profiling for criminal investigations and rape cases which does not contravene Article 20(3). Under Section 45-51 of the Indian Evidence Act (1872), expert opinions including DNA evidence are admissible as relevant facts based on doctrine of necessity for scientific inquiries before courts. Apart from being recognized by statute, CrPC and Evidence Act lays down no effective regulatory framework for DNA profiling in India. To tackle this issue, Government of India has brought forth ‘The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill’, 2019 envisaging creation of statutory body to standardize use of DNA technology in India. Nevertheless, it is yet to be passed by the Parliament.


DNA evidence has revolutionized the criminal justice system, but (there) is burdened with limits and limitations. It is very easy to contaminate DNA samples if they are not collected, stored and tested properly. Investigators/lab workers may not treat the evidence as they should leading to integrity of the evidence can be compromised, thus resulting in inaccurate results. In addition, the process of interpreting DNA evidence takes skill: many difficult cases involve mixed samples of DNA from different people so its hard to attribute a single profile. Another issue is the “CSI effect”, with courts demanding DNA tests when they are not necessary or using DNA evidence excessively to the exclusion of other traces. Moreover, the integrity of the evidence may be endangered by instances of DNA fraud, where perpetrators leave false DNA samples on crime scenes. DNA evidence also poses moral as well as ethical questions. The developments in DNA provoke fears of genetic data misuse and violation of privacy.


Criminal investigation now has new avenues to explore thanks to the advancement of DNA technology. It has also given the criminal justice system a substantial amount of supporting scientific evidence. The precision and consistency of forensic evidence have greatly increased with the introduction of DNA profiling, resulting in a decrease in the number of erroneous convictions and an increase in the conviction rate of those found guilty. The Indian court system’s guidelines for using DNA evidence is constantly developing, nevertheless. Although DNA evidence is admissible under the Indian Evidence Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure, there are obstacles to the efficient and consistent application of this technology due to the absence of a complete regulatory framework and a specific DNA profiling bill. With this continued advancement of DNA technology and the commitment to upholding the rule of law, the Indian criminal justice system can harness the full potential of DNA evidence to protect the rights of all citizens.

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