Whose Baby Is It? More Dads Seeking DNA Tests
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21 May 2010
By Sumitra Deb Roy
The number of paternity tests conducted at the FSL’s Kalina and Nagpur labs has been so huge that the FSL is now planning to also introduce the facility at its Amravati, Aurangabad, Pune and Nashik centres.
In 2009, the Kalina and Nagpur FSL centres conducted 729 DNA tests, an average of two a day. FSL sources said that 95% of them were paternity tests. As many as 50 to 60 cases relating to paternity suits land up at the government lab every month. This year, till April, 203 such cases have already come in. With private labs also conducting tests, the actual figure for people seeking to unravel the father’s identity is higher. Paternity fears: Docs advise counselling with DNA tests
Many Couples Also Go To Lab To Determine Father Of IVF Babies Mumbai: The state’s Forensic Science Laboratories (FSL) at Kalina and in Nagpur have been swamped by requests for paternity tests. Invariably, the father suspects infidelity. Psychiatrists say that along with the DNA test, paranoid parents should also go in for some counselling.
Manoj Tandon (name changed), 34, landed up at a Mahim hospital seeking psychiatric help. Tandon spent sleepless nights wondering if his one–year–old son was actually his neighbour’s. He would compare his son’s mannerisms to his neighbour’s. His doubts were fuelled by his mother, who also suspected the child was born out of wedlock. A DNA test revealed the suspicions untrue.
Hundreds of paranoid husbands like Manoj are queuing up outside laboratories with questions about parentage. Experts say that when spouses stay apart due to professional commitments, the doubts increase. Other reasons include the need for proof of the father’s identity after infertility treatments or to determine the legal heir in property and inheritance disputes.
In a majority of cases, the fears of the suspicious father are wrong. "The percentage of cases where the DNAs do not match is very less,’’ said Dr M V Garad, director, FSL.
Garad added that the number of people wanting the test has been rising over the years as awareness about paternity issues has increased. Because of this, private labs have also started offering DNA tests. But tests performed in private labs may not be admissible in court.
Metropolis Healthcare, the only private lab in the city so far to provide DNA paternity tests, has been getting eight to 10 cases a month. "Infidelity is one of the main reasons behind men asking for this test,’’ said Dr Nisha Ahmad, of Metropolis Labs. "Abroad though, the primary reason is a possible mixing up of babies.’’ She said there are a lot of inquiries about the tests.
"Many who approach us for the test are not from the city,’’ she said. Experts also attribute the rise in paternity tests to more couples seeking the help of assisted reproductive methods. Clinics offering in–vitro fertilisation have more or less made DNA testing mandatory.
Gynaecologist Dr Duru Shah said that it is common for couples who have babies through IVF to ask for a DNA test. "It is almost compulsory now. Patients coming from abroad for surrogacy or egg donation ask for the test,’’ she said. "Most samples are sent to the UK or US since there are not many private labs offering it here,’’ she said.
Often, a bit of counselling should also accompany a DNA test. Psychiatrist Dr Anjali Chhabria recollected how a patient insisted his wife abort as he believed he was not the father. "He was actually suffering from paranoid disorder,’’ she said. Apart from treating his disorder, Chhabria had to suggest a DNA test to pacify the father.
Consultant psychiatrist of Hinduja Hospital, Dr Vasant Mundra, couldn’t agree more. "Infidelity is the most common delusion for psychosis,’’ he said. "The test can be a great reliever for parents but some counselling is also advisable."
DECISIVE In COURT
Paternity/maternity tests have been the deciding factor in legal cases
DIVORCE DRAMA Manish, 38, filed for divorce from his wife Meenaxi (both names changed), 32, accusing her of adultery. When proof was not forthcoming, he went to the extent of doubting his two children’s paternity. Manish claimed that the couple’s daughters were the result of his wife’s extramarital affair with her alleged lover. The court ordered a paternity test, which proved that the children were his. Not only did the court reject his plea for divorce, but also saddled him with a hefty maintenance tab
BORN UNDER A CLOUD Dharavi resident Sheela Jaiswal delivered a baby at Sion hospital in December 2007. Sheela and her husband, Rajmani Jaiswal, however claimed that their baby had been swapped. She said she had actually delivered a boy, but the hospital was forcing her to accept a girl. The Jaiswals refused to take the baby, named Khushi by the hospital staff, home. Khushi was lodged in an ashram. A test was conducted at Kalina’s Forensic Science Laboratory, which established links between the mother and child. The couple however refused to accept the results
GUILTY STEPFATHER A minor girl in Bhimnagar, Mankhurd, got pregnant in May 2005. She confided to her aunt that her stepfather, Abdul Latif Shaikh, had repeatedly raped her since 2003 after her mother’s death. Shaikh was arrested, but denied the charges. Subsequently, the girl gave birth to a child and the court ordered a paternity test. The report said that Shaikh was the baby’s father. A sessions court held Shaikh guilty of rape and sentenced him to seven years imprisonment
IN DENIAL Abdul Qadir, 27, a bangle seller, pursued a girl who stayed in the same locality of Prem Nagar in Goregaon. They became close and even shared a physical relationship. When the girl became pregnant, Qadir refused to marry her. The girl filed a First Information Report alleging rape. In court, Qadir denied that he even knew the girl. The court finally ordered a DNA test. The report confirmed that Qadir was the father of the victim’s child. The court held Qadir guilty of cheating the girl and asked him to shell out Rs 1.5 lakh as compensation Compiled by Shibu Thomas