Appeals Court rules courts empowered to order DNA tests to ascertain child's paternity

PUTRAJAYA: The High Court has the power to issue an order for a minor to undergo DNA tests to ascertain the child's paternity, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

This was decided by a three-member panel of judges comprising Justices Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera, Datuk M. Gunalan and Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali on Monday (March 27) in an appeal concerning a paternity dispute case.

Justice Vazeer, who delivered the court's unanimous decision, said it was in the child's interest to know the truth of his or her paternity and courts must exercise their inherent jurisdiction of Parens Patriae (the "parent of the country" doctrine) to assist the child to know the truth.

"The right to know his or her biological parents is now internationally recognised as the basic right of critical importance to a child," he said.

In upholding the decision in the paternity dispute case, he said the High Court had adopted English case law and English common law principles stating the High Court has inherent jurisdiction as Parens Patriae" to give any order it deemed appropriate in the interest of a child, which includes an order to undergo blood tests to determine paternity.

Justice Vazeer said the appellate court concurred with the findings of the High Court judge on the application of the common law principles in the case and did not find any reason to disturb the pronouncement of law by the High Court judge.

He, however, allowed a stay of execution of the DNA order as requested by lawyer Kiran Dhaliwal, representing a couple involved in the child paternity suit, who intend to file an application for leave to appeal to the Federal Court.

This was after lawyer Honey Tan Lay Ean, appearing for the man who filed the suit, did not object to the stay application.

In the suit against a teenager's mother and the woman's husband, the man claims that he is the biological father to the teenager. He wants the court to order for a DNA test to be conducted on the teenager to determine the teenager's paternity.

In 2021, the High Court ordered that a DNA test be conducted on the teenager, citing that the courts have the power to order such a test in the best interest of the child. This prompted the couple to appeal to the Court of Appeal against that decision.

The court has issued an order for identities, details and information that may lead to the identification of the parties in the suit not to be published. – Bernama

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