‘Dead have right of privacy’: Madras HC says no DNA test on Jayalalithaa in Amrutha plea

Amrutha Sarathy had moved the court seeking a DNA test to establish that she is Jayalalithaa’s daughter. The court has now denied her plea.
‘Dead have right of privacy’: Madras HC says no DNA test on Jayalalithaa in Amrutha plea
‘Dead have right of privacy’: Madras HC says no DNA test on Jayalalithaa in Amrutha plea
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Nearly a year after a 37-year-old woman from Bengaluru created a flutter by claiming to be the biological daughter of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, the Madras High Court has dismissed her writ petition. Amrutha Sarathy had moved the court seeking a DNA test to establish that she is Jayalalithaa’s daughter. She also sought to cremate the remains of the late leader as per rites, rituals and customs of the Iyengar community, once her maternity was ascertained.

While dismissing her petition on the grounds that Amrutha had failed to produce substantial evidence to prove her claim, Justice S Vaidyanathan stated, “In the absence of substantial evidence to support the claim of the first petitioner/Amrutha, this Court cannot grant the relief sought by her. If the said relief is granted, it will not only open the Pandora’s box but also the coffin of Late Ms J Jayalalithaa.”

The Madras High Court in its 38-page ruling also emphasised that the dead have right to privacy, noting, “According to Puranas, even dead persons have got a right of privacy and their souls should not be disturbed, as they have immortal life after their death.”  

Amrutha’s claims

In her writ petition, Amrutha claimed that she was born on 14 August 1980 at Jayalalithaa’s Mylapore residence in Chennai. She, however, was raised by Shailaja, Jayalalithaa’s ‘sister’ and Sarathy, who did not have children of their own. Amrutha also went on to state in her petition that she learnt she was Jayalalithaa’s daughter after the leader’s demise through her foster father Sarathy before his death, and later through her aunts, LS Lalitha and Ranjani Ravindranath. She claimed that an understanding was arrived at by Jayalalithaa and the family members that Amrutha’s birth would be kept a secret to uphold the dignity of the family. Amrutha also stated that it was Jayalalithaa’s wish that Amrutha be raised by Shailaja and Sarathy.

Amrutha also claimed that she had visited Jayalalithaa at her Poes Garden residence in Chennai in 1996, and thereafter the former CM visited her in Bengaluru and even stayed with her.

Tamil Nadu government’s counter

However, in response to Amrutha’s claims, the Tamil Nadu government stated that there was no proof to show that the former CM visited the petitioner during her visits to Bengaluru in 2007 and 2008. The state government also said there was no proof of Amrutha’s visits to Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence. Moreover, telephone bills from the years 2002 and 2003 furnished by Amrutha as proof that she had spoken to Jayalalithaa could not be verified as the Telecom Regulatory of India maintained call records only for a year, pointed out the Tamil Nadu government.

Furthermore, rejecting Amrutha’s claim that Shailaja was Jayalalithaa’s sister, the state government pointed out that Jayalalithaa had filed a defamation case against Shailaja for an article published in Tamil magazine Junior Vikatan. The Tamil Nadu government also went on to produce a video clipping of Jayalalithaa at the Filmfare Awards - South function that was held on July 6, 1980 to prove that the late leader was not pregnant at the time, and that Amrutha’s claim was “utterly false”.

While Amrutha had stated that she was ready to match her blood samples with the late leader, Apollo Hospitals in Chennai – at the behest of the court – had reported that no biological samples belonging to Jayalalithaa were kept frozen with the hospital. Thereafter, Amrutha had sought to carry out a DNA test with Deepa Jayakumar, Jayalalithaa’s niece.

‘Cannot conduct roving enquiry on persons who are not alive’

However, Justice Vaidyanathan in his order observes that Amrutha “has not established any extraordinary circumstance for conducting DNA Test, and hence, she cannot compel the 3rd respondent/ Deepa Jayakumar to give her blood samples for DNA matching.”

Snidely pointing out that Amrutha had failed to prove her claims with evidence, Justice Vaidyanathan went on to state, “…unfortunately, the witnesses on the side of the first petitioner/Amrutha had already attained mortality and since we are living in the age of Kali Yuga, we cannot expect a dead person to come alive and stand as a witness, as Hindus believe that human civilization degenerates spiritually during the Kali Yuga, which is referred to as the Dark Ages, because in Kali Yuga people are as far away as possible from God. When there is no cogent material or reason, the first petitioner/Amrutha cannot ask the Court to conduct a roving enquiry that too on persons who are not alive.”

In the October 12 order, Justice Vaidyanathan stated, “…the first petitioner/ Amrutha has not produced any photograph to establish that she had stayed with Late Ms J Jayalalithaa. The averment of the first petitioner/Amrutha that she made several phone calls to Late Ms J Jayalalithaa, cannot be a good ground for this Court to accept her contention. Though the first petitioner/ Amrutha has averred in Affidavit that Late Ms J Jayalalithaa was so clannish to her and she used to hug the first petitioner, whenever she saw her, it would only be considered as spoken in the air, mere showing her delusive quality and this Court cannot take the same into account for the purpose of granting relief.”

The High Court also observed that while the State has control over the mortal remains of the deceased Chief Minister in conducting a funeral, neither Amrutha nor Jayalalithaa’s family members had expressed interest in cremating her as per the Iyengar customs.

Furthermore, the court also made note of the fact that Amrutha had not made any request nor filed a case for a Paternity Test. It was only after the High Court had posed the question that Amrutha had stated her willingness to have her biological samples matched with the children of late actor Shoban Babu.


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