In an embarrassment to veteran Congress leader N D Tiwari, the Delhi high court on Friday rejected his plea not to open his DNA report before a single judge bench, adjudicating the paternity suit of a city youth, who claims to be his son.
The court allowed Justice Reva Khetrapal, who has decided to open Tiwari's DNA report along with those of paternity suit petitioner Rohit Shekhar and his mother Ujjwala Sharma at 2.30 pm on Friday, to declare the DNA test result in open court, but asked her not to give its copies to any party to the case.
Dismissing Tiwari's appeal against Justice Khetrapal's July 19 decision, a division bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said, "Not opening the DNA report may lead to a lengthy process".
Concurring with the single judge's observation on Supreme Court's direction to maintain confidentiality on Tiwari's DNA profile, the bench said, "We are in agreement with the single judge that nowhere the Supreme Court in its order stated that the DNA profile shall be kept in a sealed cover till the conclusion of trial. This DNA report is a piece of evidence."
"The purpose was to cut short the controversy and to avoid an unnecessarily prolonged trial. If the sample is not opened now, it may lead to unnecessary cross-examination of the witnesses. We do not find merit in the petition, so it is dismissed," the bench added.
Tiwari's counsel and senior advocate Mukul Gupta had sought quashing of the single judge's order or to provide protection till the Supreme Court clarifies its May 24 order on the issue of confidentiality.
The senior lawyer submitted to the bench that after the single judge dismissed their plea to conduct the trial in-camera and also to keep the DNA report confidential, they have filed an application before the apex court, which is yet to hear their plea.
Opposing Tiwari's plea, plaintiff Rohit Shekhar's lawyer Amit Sibbal said, "The DNA report is a scientific evidence and the truth should come out as early as possible."
He further submitted that Tiwari is an old man and if any thing happens to him, the suit will become infructous. Accordingly, the court must decide the matter at the earliest, he added.
After hearing all the submissions, the bench told Tiwari's counsel, "It is a piece of evidence, how can you say that the piece of evidence can't be opened. It is an open trial and the evidence has to be recorded."
In his appeal, 87-year-old Tiwari had pleaded with the court to protect his 'right to reputation', contending that the single-judge bench has adopted a 'shortcut' to decide the suit and it would cause 'grave injustice' to him.
A former Andhra Pradesh governor, Tiwari earlier had filed an application before the single judge for keeping the DNA report confidential and holding in-camera proceedings in the case, saying that the Supreme Court had given such a direction on May 24.
The single judge had dismissed Tiwari's plea against making public his DNA report saying the apex court's order to maintain confidentiality was for the purpose of collection of his blood sample for the DNA test and the transmission of the report to the high court but not for the purpose of trial.
Tiwari had given blood sample for the DNA test on May 29 at his residence in Dehradun following the apex court order in the case, after repeatedly contesting against undergoing the test on various grounds.
Tiwari's pleas were objected to by 32-year-old Rohit Shekhar, who had filed the paternity suit in 2008, claiming the veteran Congress leader to be his biological father. Tiwari had refuted Shekhar's claim.
Hyderabad-based Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics had recently submitted the DNA reports of Tiwari, Shekhar and his mother Ujjawala Sharma to the high court in sealed covers.