The Madhya Pradesh High Court has held that the courts cannot routinely order determination of paternity by way of DNA tests as forcefully subjecting someone to medical examination violates their right to privacy.
The order takes cue from a decision of the Supreme Court in Bhabani Prasad Jena v. Convenor Secretary, Orissa State Commission For Women & Anr., (2010) 8 SCC 633, whereby a division bench had observed,
"In our view, when there is apparent conflict between the right to privacy of a person not to submit himself forcibly to medical examination and duty of the court to reach the truth, the court must exercise its discretion only after balancing the interests of the parties and on due consideration whether for a just decision in the matter, DNA test is eminently needed. DNA test in a matter relating to paternity of a child should not be directed by the court as a matter of course or in a routine manner, whenever such a request is made. The court has to consider diverse aspects including presumption under Section 112 of the Evidence Act; pros and cons of such order and the test of "eminent need" whether it is not possible for the court to reach the truth without use of such test."
In the present case, Justice GS Ahluwalia was hearing a petition filed against the order of Additional Collector, District Vidishaby whereby the Petitioner's application seeking DNA test of Respondent no.2 to determine his paternity had been rejected.
Pertinently, Respondents no.1 and 2 by projecting themselves to be the wife and son of one Raghuvar (deceased) had filed an application for mutation of their names on his property.
The Petitioner, nephew of the deceased, filed his objection to that application and stated that the Respondent no. 2 was not the son of Late Raghuvar and that the Respondent had no right to get his name mutated.
In this backdrop the Petitioner had sought that the Respondent No.2's paternity be established by way of DNA test.
Declining the Petitioner's request, the court held that it was not inclined to order a DNA test until compelling reasons were shown. It reiterated,
"In a matter where paternity of a child is in issue before the court, the use of DNA test is an extremely delicate and sensitive aspect. One view is that when modern science gives the means of ascertaining the paternity of a child, there should not be any hesitation to use those means whenever the occasion requires. The other view is that the court must be reluctant in the use of such scientific advances and tools which result in invasion of right to privacy of an individual and may not only be prejudicial to the rights of the parties but may have devastating effect on the child. Sometimes the result of such scientific test may bastardise an innocent child even though his mother and her spouse were living together during the time of conception."
The court also disallowed the Petitioner's claim over the property by way of a will and it held as under,
"This Court is of the considered opinion that in a proceeding for mutation, the respondent no.2 cannot be directed to undergo the DNA test. Further, the petitioner is seeking mutation of his name on the basis of a Will and it is beyond the jurisdiction of the revenue authorities to determine the genuineness of a Will. If the petitioner is of the view that a Will was executed by Late Raghuvar in his favour, then he has to establish his title by filing a properly constituted civil suit."
Case Title: Ajay Singh v. Smt. Rama Bai & Ors.
Case No.: MP No. 1239/2020
Quorum: Justice GS Ahluwalia
Appearance: Advocate Aditya Sharma (for Petitioner)
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