The Supreme Court of India ruled Friday that a forced DNA test violates the right to privacy and personal liberty.
The decision came in a property dispute, wherein the plaintiff claimed to be the son of late Trilok Gupta and late Sona Devi. He filed a lawsuit, naming the daughters of Trilok Gupta and Sona Devi as defendants, seeking a declaration of ownership of the property they left behind. However, the defendants denied any biological connection with the plaintiff. Further, they filed an application to compel the plaintiff to take a DNA test to prove his relationship with them. While the trial court denied the application, the high court permitted it on appeal.
Adjudicating the plaintiff’s appeal against the high court order, the Supreme Court concluded that when a person refuses to take a DNA test, compelling them to do so would violate their personal liberty and right to privacy. Further, the court stated that if other evidence is available to determine the relationship, DNA tests should not be ordered because they have significant privacy and societal consequences. In addition, the bench opined that courts should balance “the quest for truth, and the social and cultural implications involved therein.”
Moreover, the court held that the proportionality test established in KS Puttaswamy v Union of India could also be used to determine whether a person can be forced to take a DNA test. The KS Puttaswamy decision came out in 2017, wherein the Supreme Court recognized the right to privacy as a fundamental right under the Indian constitution.