Observing that human relations should not be treated as commercial or civil transactions, the Delhi High Court Wednesday dismissed former Andhra Pradesh governor N.D. Tiwari’s plea challenging the paternity suit of a 34-year-old man who says the Congress leader is his biological father.
Justice Vikramjit Sen and Justice Manmohan Singh said there was ample evidence to prove that the suit of Rohit Shekhar could be filed in Delhi – a ground on which Shekhar’s plea was earlier dismissed by a single-judge bench.
According to the division bench, as Tiwari is not the governor of Andhra Pradesh any more and has an official residence in Delhi, the case could be heard by the Delhi High Court.
The court rejected 86-year-old Tiwari’s submission that Shekhar had failed to file the petition within the three-year limitation period after turning a major and said, “We think that in the vicissitudes of personal relations this is an untenable position to adopt.”
“Human relations cannot be treated in the same manner as commercial or civil transactions. An infidelity by a spouse is condoned by a subsequent conjugation,” the bench said in its 18-page order.
“Furthermore, the court cannot at the incipient stage delve into the mind of the petitioner in order to ascertain the time at which he felt that he had no alternative but to go to the extreme of moving the court which is always a point of no return.”
“We think the acceptable approach is to ascertain where and when the natural father has explicitly and publicly disclaimed paternity. If this had not been followed by a rapprochement, however ephemeral that may have been, three years’ limitation would have to be computed from its end,” the court said.
It was in 2005 that Tiwari refused to meet Shekhar and his mother at Delhi.
The single-judge bench, while refusing to admit Shekhar’s plea earlier, had said that since Tiwari was the governor of Andhra Pradesh, the suit against him should be filed in that state.
On Wednesday, the court said, “At this stage of the proceedings, without the reception of evidence, in our view the single judge fell into error in rejecting the suit. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that findings on the merits of the case have been articulated in the wake of a conclusion that the single judge did not possess the jurisdiction.”
The court checked Tiwari’s counsel when he submitted that Shekhar’s plea was not maintainable. It said it may consider ordering a DNA test if the issue of maintainability was raised by Tiwari.
Shekhar’s plea will now come up before a single-judge bench April 7.
Senior advocate P.S. Patwali, who argued for Shekhar, stressed that Tiwari’s denial in accepting him as his son was the reason for filing this civil suit.
Welcoming the court order, Shekhar’s mother Ujwala Sharma said: “I am very happy and it is a big victory for us.”
Shekhar said, “I am feeling vindicated. This order is a big relief for us.”
Shekhar said the purpose of filing the suit was to know who his biological father was. “It’s my fundamental right,” he told reporters.
Shekhar said he was seeking a DNA test to know if Tiwari was his father. He indicated that he wanted an apology from the veteran Congressman if the test proved him to be his father.
According to Shekhar’s petition, Tiwari began neglecting him and his mother after 1995 and refused to meet him after becoming the Uttaranchal chief minister.
Tiwari’s five-decade-old political career came to a virtual end after a news channel last year showed clippings of an elderly man purported to be Tiwari in bed with three young women.
A few days later, Tiwari resigned as the Andhra Pradesh governor citing health grounds