The court last week rejected a Sangli resident’s plea to subject his 16-year-old daughter to a DNA test to establish paternity. A division bench of Justice Sadhna Jadhav said the birth of a child during the time of a valid marriage is proof that the child is legitimate. The court threw out the application filed by Ishwar Shinde, who claimed that he suspected his daughter was born of an adulterous affair of his wife with another man. Shinde filed the application after his estranged wife moved the civil court for maintenance.
“The question of birth of a child due to adulterous behaviour is nothing but void, vague and a baseless allegation, and the learned civil judge had rightly rejected the prayer for DNA test,” said Justice Jadhav. “The birth of a child during continuance of a valid marriage or even within 280 days after its dissolution is conclusive proof that child was legitimate unless parties to marriage had no access to each other at any time when conception took place. In the present case, there is no good ground to hold that the parties had no access with each other, at least, till June 1997,” the court said. The HC pointed out that the daughter was born in 1997 and Shinde had not raised any questions about her paternity, till 2004, when his wife filed a maintenance petition.
Shinde, who was employed in a commercial ship, married Seema in 1994. He claimed he was not in India for various periods between 1996 and 1997. His daughter was born in 1997. Seema filed a cruelty case against Shinde in 2000, but he was acquitted. She also filed an application seeking maintenance for her and the couple’s daughter. Shinde subsequently questioned the paternity of the child and alleged that another man was her father.
The HC pointed out that during Shinde’s cross-examination he had admitted that he had no evidence that his wife had been seen with the other man or his parents had suspected her chastity. He claimed to have learnt of the alleged illicit relationship from his wife herself. The HC referred to Supreme Court judgments saying the courts should exercise discretion and order medical tests to establish paternity only when a strong prima facie case is made out. “(Shinde) has not made out a case that would cast any doubt about the fact that the child was begotten during the validity of the marriage,” the judge said.
(Names of the couple changed to protect their identities)