The Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay the Delhi high court order asking veteran Congress leader N D Tiwari to undergo a DNA test in a paternity case.
However, a bench comprising justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha made it clear that the findings of the test would not be made public until and unless it is required by the court to decide the paternity suit against Tiwari.
The bench said the report would be kept in a sealed envelope and directed the 85-year-old leader to suggest by Friday the procedure preferred by him to undergo the DNA test.
Refusing to grant any relief, the apex court said that considering the age of the leader, it is necessary to have a DNA test so that the young man claiming to be his son is not left without any remedy if something happens to Tiwari.
"We want to ensure that there must be something on which the court can rely if something happens to you (Tiwari)," the bench said.
"It (DNA report) may turn out to be a waste paper if the paternity suit doesn't pass the first legal hurdle. But what would happen if something happens to you," the court said while rejecting Tiwari's plea that he should not be subjected to the test as it would violate his right to privacy.
Tiwari, who has held the post of chief minister of undivided Uttar Pradesh and later of Uttarakhand, contended that it would be a public humiliation to him if he is directed to undergo a DNA test.
The bench, however, said, "Where is the intrusion of privacy, if the DNA report is kept in sealed envelope? We are not averse to deciding your plea but we won't allow the paternity suit to be frustrated by staying the order. It cannot go on like this."
The court also queried from the leader's counsel as to why Tiwari was avoiding the test. "Can you give me one reason why you are avoiding it," the bench asked.
A single-judge bench of the Delhi high court had on December 23 asked Tiwari to undergo the DNA test on a paternity suit filed by Rohit Shekhar, who claims to be Tiwari's biological son born out of the leader's alleged relationship with his mother Ujjawala Sharma.
The court had asked him to undergo the test, saying the wider interest of a child that he should not be declared a "bastard" has to be kept in mind.
Senior advocate Ashok Desai, appearing for the Congress leader, contended that the high court had committed an error in passing the order and the court should look at other evidence too to decide the paternity suit rather than focusing on the DNA test, which is not a conclusive evidence.
"It is a strange suit which has been filed by the young man 30 years after his birth and he pleads the court to declare her mother unchaste," Desai submitted before the bench.
Tiwari, who was forced to resign as governor in the midst of allegations of sexual misconduct, had countered the charges claiming that he never had any physical relationship with Ujjawala, who is also a Congress activist, and Shekhar was not entitled to seek a DNA test as a matter of right.