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DNA TEST IN DIVORCE CASES

DNA paternity tests have become increasingly relevant in legal contexts, especially in the realm of divorce litigation. In this blog, we will delve into the intricacies of DNA paternity tests, their implications in Indian law, and how the Latest Supreme Court Guidelines have shaped the legal landscape.

DNA test in Divorce Cases

Understanding DNA Paternity Testing

DNA paternity testing is a scientific method used to determine whether a man is the biological father of a child. It involves comparing the DNA of the alleged father, the child, and sometimes the mother to ascertain biological relationships. This testing is highly accurate and has been widely accepted as evidence in legal matters related to paternity disputes.

Legal Relevance of DNA Testing in India

In India, the legal admissibility of DNA tests as evidence is governed by various statutes, including the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. While the Act does not explicitly address DNA testing, the courts have, over time, recognized its reliability and admissibility under certain circumstances.

Relevance in Divorce Litigation:

Paternity disputes often arise in the context of divorce proceedings. Accurate determination of paternity is crucial for various legal matters, including child custody, visitation rights, and financial responsibilities. In divorce cases, where parties may be in contention over the identity of the biological father, DNA paternity tests serve as a conclusive method to establish or disprove paternity.

Indian Legal Framework:

The Indian legal system has grappled with the integration of DNA paternity testing into its framework. The Supreme Court of India, in various judgments, has acknowledged the importance of scientific evidence, including DNA tests, in determining paternity. However, the admissibility of such evidence is subject to certain conditions. The Indian Evidence Act empowers the court to admit evidence that is relevant to the matter in dispute. The court may allow DNA test results if they are considered relevant, credible, and in the interest of justice. However, courts are cautious in their approach, ensuring that the tests are conducted by accredited laboratories and following established protocols to maintain the integrity of the
results.

 

Aparna Ajinkya Firodia Case:

The Supreme Court, in a recent judgment in the case of Aparna Ajinkya Firodia, has delineated the scope of using DNA profiling in divorce cases and underscored the principle that a child should not be utilized as a pawn to substantiate allegations of adultery against a spouse. The bench, comprising Justices V Ramasubramanian and BV Nagarathna, emphasized the importance of upholding the right to privacy of the child, asserting that the court should not mechanically order a DNA test for a minor in every divorce case.
The dispute in question involved a 9-year-old child being brought into the fray to substantiate claims of adultery against the wife. The court, while acknowledging the gravity of such allegations, held that DNA testing of a minor child should only be directed in exceptional and deserving cases where it becomes indispensable to resolve the controversy.

Justice Nagarathna, in her detailed opinion, highlighted the stigma attached to the term illegitimate and urged the courts to be inclined towards upholding the legitimacy of the child unless compelling evidence suggests otherwise. She noted that the impact of growing up with the social stigma of being considered illegitimate does not diminish over time.
Justice Ramasubramanian stressed that the analysis of whether a DNA test should be permitted on the child should be done through the prism of the child’s rights, not the parents’. He emphasized that the child should not be used as a pawn to prove allegations of adultery against the mother. Instead, the court should prioritize the best interests and rights of the child, ensuring that their identity is not sacrificed for the benefit of either party in the divorce.
The case originated from a divorce petition filed by the respondent-husband, claiming to have discovered alleged adulterous conduct of the appellant-wife after stumbling upon WhatsApp messages. The husband privately conducted a DNA test on the second child and sought a court direction for a DNA test at the Government Central Forensic Laboratory. The Family Court and the Bombay High Court allowed the application, leading to the appeal.
The Supreme Court analyzed Section 112 of the Indian Evidence Act, which creates a presumption of legitimacy for a child born during a valid marriage. The court emphasized that conclusive proof of paternity under this section cannot be rebutted by a mere DNA test report. The court also discussed Section 114 of the Evidence Act, stating that adverse inferences against the wife can only be drawn if she refuses to comply with a court-ordered DNA test.

Furthermore, the court outlined the parameters for the use of DNA profiling technology in divorce proceedings. It emphasized that DNA tests should not be ordered routinely and should only be directed in exceptional cases where there is no other mode of proving allegations of infidelity. The court also highlighted the potential adverse consequences on children born out of adultery, including social stigma and inheritance-related issues.
In conclusion the Supreme Court set aside the orders of the Family Court and the High Court, directing the respondent to pay a cost of Rs.1 Lakh to the appellant within one month. The judgment in the Aparna Ajinkya Firodia case serves as a crucial precedent, balancing the right to privacy, the best interests of the child, and the need for evidence in divorce cases involving allegations of adultery.

Impact on Divorce Litigation:

Post the Aparna Ajinkya Firodia case, the landscape of divorce litigation in India has witnessed a notable shift. Courts are now more open to considering DNA paternity tests as conclusive evidence, especially when there are
substantial doubts or disputes regarding paternity. This has streamlined the adjudication process in cases where biological parentage is a key factor. The judgment has also underscored the principle that the best interests of the
child should be paramount. DNA paternity testing, when conducted in accordance with established legal principles, assists the court in making informed decisions related to child custody, visitation rights, and financial
support.

Challenges and Considerations:

While the Aparna Ajinkya Firodia case has provided clarity on the admissibility of DNA paternity tests, challenges persist. Issues related to the misuse of such tests, privacy concerns, and ethical considerations are areas that continue to demand attention. Striking a balance between the right to know the truth and protecting the privacy and dignity of individuals involved remains a delicate task for the legal system.

Conclusion:


In conclusion, DNA paternity testing has emerged as a crucial tool in resolving paternity disputes, particularly in the context of divorce litigation. The Aparna Ajinkya Firodia case has been a watershed moment, affirming the admissibility of DNA test results in legal proceedings. As the legal system continues to adapt to advances in scientific evidence, the careful consideration of ethical and

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