On children’s right to protect their genetic information

Source: This post is based on the article “Rights at the centre”, published in The Hindu on 24th feb. 2023.

Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 2, Protection of Vulnerable Sections.

News: Request for DNA test of children violates child fundamental right to privacy.

United Nations General Assembly in 1958,

“Mankind owes to the child the best it can give.”

How Children’s rights have evolved and what are the challenges they are facing now?

United Nation’s  Declaration of the Rights of the Child was adopted in 1959. It was aimed at ensuring basic rights to all children below 18 years.

India ratified the Convention in 1992 and over the years several laws have been enacted to protect the rights of children.

The advancements in digital technologies have helped in his objective on many fronts, from registration of births, creating a legal identity to health care.

However, technological development has also led to violation of rights integral to a harmonious upbringing of a child. For example, in many cases request for DNA test of children violates child fundamental right to privacy.

What is the judicial observation in this regard?

In a petition, a man questioned his second child’s paternity. In this case, judiciary held that Genetic information sheds light on a person’s essence. This “intimate, personal information” is part of a child’s fundamental right. So, Children have the right, not to have their legitimacy questioned frivolously before a court of law.

Forensic/DNA testing should only be used as a last resort.

Further, judiciary directed courts to acknowledge that children must not be regarded as material objects.

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