Children have a right to protect their genetic information from DNA tests: SC judgment

Source: The post is based on the article “Children have a right to protect their genetic information from DNA tests: SC judgment” published in The Hindu on 22nd February 2023.

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has recently held that children cannot be mechanically subjected to DNA tests in each and every case between warring parents as a shortcut to establishing proof of infidelity.

About the case

A petition was filed by a man who questioned his second child’s paternity while accusing his wife of an adulterous relationship. But the mother declined to subject the child to a paternity test.

What are the Supreme Court’s observations?

The court held that 1) “a child’s genetic information is part of his fundamental right to privacy.” This is because genetic information is personal and intimate and the genetic information goes to the very heart of who she or he is. 2) Children are not to be regarded like material objects, and be subjected to forensic/DNA testing, particularly when they are not parties to the divorce proceeding, 3) Children will face psychological trauma when his or her legitimacy was put under a cloud through DNA tests.

The court noted the rights of privacy, autonomy and identity recognised under the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Note: The Convention acknowledges the control that individuals, including children, have over their own personal boundaries and the means by which they define who they are in relation to other people. 

The court also held that permitting DNA tests will also harm the reputation and dignity of the mother. So, family courts should direct a DNA test only in reasonable situations and in the interest of justice, as a last resort.

Read more: No DNA test if there is no proof of adultery: Supreme Court


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