DNA test to prove or dispute relationship violates right to privacy; should not be ordinarily allowed: Madhya Pradesh High Court

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The Gwalior Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court recently refused to interfere with an order of the trial court denying a request for DNA testing for determination of paternity in a property dispute [Urmila Singh v Saudan Singh].

Justice Gurpal Singh Ahluwalia held that directions for conducting a DNA test is violative of an individual’s privacy.

The judge concurred with the 2022 Supreme Court judgment in Ashok Kumar v. Raj Gupta in which it was held that a request for DNA test can be allowed by courts only after considering the proportionality of the aims being pursued.

The issue arose when the petitioner’s late husband moved a civil suit for partition, after which he passed away. On his passing, an application was moved to bring his wife, the petitioner, on record as a legal representative.

An objection was raised against this application by his daughter, who wished to be impleaded. However, the petitioner claimed to have never given birth to her. Therefore, a DNA test was sought so that her paternity could be ascertained.

The trial court rejected the application for a DNA test and consequently, the High Court was moved.

The single-judge began by examining the top court’s decision in the case of Banarsi Dass v Teeku Dutta wherein it was held that courts could not order blood tests as a matter of course.

The Court also quoted with the approval the Ashok Kumar judgment in which it was held that in cases where other evidence was available to prove or dispute the relationship, the Court should ordinarily refrain from ordering blood tests.

“This is because such tests impinge upon the right of privacy of an individual and could also have major societal repercussions,” the judge reasoned.

The Ashok Kumar judgment had also said that Indian law leans towards legitimacy and frowns upon bastardy, and thus the presumption in law of legitimacy of a child could not be lightly repelled.

Additionally, while discussing burden of proof in such cases, the top court had said that the court’s decision should be rendered only after balancing the interests of the parties, along with the social and cultural implications involved.

In view of the above judgment, the High Court said that the petitioner would get every chance to rebut the presumption during trial and dismissed the petition while finding no error in the trial court’s decision.

Advocate PC Chandil appeared for the petitioner.

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