Case Brief on Ashok Kumar v. Raj Gupta

Chambers of Ishaan Garg

Ch. No. 217, Western Wing, District & Sessions Court, Tis Hazari, New Delhi, Delhi 110054

+91 8851742417, +91 8800386163

In this case, the Supreme Court of India (“Court”), held that a Plaintiff could not be compelled to take a DNA test in a suit for the ownership of inherited property. The Court held that compelling an individual to undergo a DNA test against their wish would amount to an infringement of their privacy.

The Plaintiff claimed to be the son of a deceased couple, and filed a suit in the Trial Court of Kalka (“Trial Court”) seeking declaration of ownership over their property. The three daughters of the deceased couple (“Defendants”) refuted this claim and argued that the Plaintiff was not the biological child of their parents. The Defendants sought an order from the Trial Court to compel the Plaintiff to take a DNA test to prove his biological relationship with their parents. The Plaintiff refused to take the DNA test, stating that he had already produced sufficient evidence to prove his relationship with the deceased couple.

The Court observed that a DNA test could encroach upon the Plaintiff’s right to privacy and personal liberty. Therefore, a DNA test could only be ordered only when the test of proportionality (laid down in the K.S. Puttaswamy vs. Union of India ((2017) 10 SCC 1) ) was satisfied, and not as a matter of routine. The Court also reaffirmed that Indian law leans in the favour of the presumption of legitimacy of children, and it would not repel this presumption lightly.

DNA is unique to an individual (barring twins) and can be used to identify a person’s identity, trace familial linkages or even reveal sensitive health information. Whether a person can be compelled to provide a sample for DNA in such matters can also be answered considering the test of proportionality laid down in the unanimous decision of this Court in K.S Puttaswamy v. Union of India, wherein the right to privacy has been declared a constitutionally protected right in India.

 Ashok Kumar v. Raj Gupta