New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that DNA test in a paternity suit cannot be ordered by courts in a routine manner but should be directed only in exceptional cases as it would otherwise be an invasion of a person`s privacy.
"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," a Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha said in a judgement.
The apex court passed the judgement while setting aside an Orissa High Court order which had upheld the direction of the Orissa State Women`s Commission for conduct of a DNA test to determine the paternity dispute of a couple.
The Commission had passed the direction for DNA test on an application moved by the estranged wife Suvashree Nayak after the husband Bhabani Prasad Jena disputed the claim that he had fathered her child. The couple are locked in a divorce suit.
Jena challenged the direction for DNA test on the ground that the divorce suit was still pending in the matrimonial court and the direction was an invasion of his privacy.
Upholding his appeal, the apex court said "in a matter where paternity of a child is in issue before the court, the use of DNA is an extremely delicate and sensitive aspect."
Citing its earlier rulings, Justice Lodha writing the judgement, said 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."