The Apex court set aside the respected High court’s direction for DNA tests of children in matrimonial disputes. The Supreme Court says that merely because something is permissible under the law cannot be directed as a matter of course, to be performed particularly when a direction to that effect would be invasive to the physical autonomy of a person. This was seen in the case of INAYATH ALI & ANR. versus STATE OF TELANGANA & ANR. (CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1569/2022) and the case was presided over by Honourable Mr. Justice Aniruddha Bose and Honourable Mr. Justice Vikram Nath.
FACTS OF THE CASE
In this case, the High Court allowed DNA testing to determine the paternity of two children to verify a claim made by their mother that she had been “forced to cohabit and develop a physical relationship” with her brother-in-law. This appeal had arisen out of a dowry harassment case in which the complainant had lodged a first information report against her husband and his brother under Sections 498A, 323, and 354 and other ancillary provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the trial court had directed the appellants and the children “to give blood samples to a specified hospital for obtaining an expert opinion on DNA fingerprint test”
But ultimately this direction came under the scanner of the Supreme Court. The High court was of the view that the DNA test was permitted under Sections 53, 53A, and 54 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, and did not amount to testimonial compulsion. Though the Supreme Court has different opinions in these instances.
The Supreme Court Bench, comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and Vikram Nath, made the following observations: –
Supreme Court took a different stand based on two factors–
First, neither were the children whose blood samples were directed to be taken parties to the proceeding nor were their status required to be examined in the complaint. The Court observed that this raised doubt on “their legitimacy of being borne to legally wedded parents” and such directions if carried out, had the potential of “exposing them to inheritance-related complication”. It was also noted that Section 112 of the Evidence Act, of 1872 gave a protective cover from allegations of this nature.
Second, the paternity of the children was not in question in the proceedings. The Court observed that the substance of the question was whether the offenses under the aforesaid provisions had been committed and the paternity of the two children was only collateral to the allegations on which the criminal case was otherwise founded.
These two factors were completely ignored by the High court and further by the revisional court which also referred to the case of Ashok Kumar v. Raj Gupta and Others and put heavy reliance on it.
The Supreme Court noted,
“Merely because something is permissible under the law cannot be directed as a matter, of course, to be performed particularly when a direction to that effect would be invasive to the physical autonomy of a person. The consequence thereof would not be confined to the question as to whether such an order would result in testimonial compulsion but encompasses the right to privacy as well. Such direction would violate the privacy right of the persons subjected to such tests and could be prejudicial to the future of the two children who were also sought to be brought within the ambit of the Trial Court’s direction. We, accordingly, allow the appeal and set aside the High Court’s judgment.”
“PRIME LEGAL is a full-service law firm that has won a National Award and has more than 20 years of experience in an array of sectors and practice areas. Prime legal fall into a category of best law firm, best lawyer, best family lawyer, best divorce lawyer, best divorce law firm, best criminal lawyer, best criminal law firm, best consumer lawyer, best civil lawyer.”
JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY ABHINAV SHUKLA.