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Section 112 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872: Presumption of Child Legitimacy

Introduction

Section 112 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 is a significant provision dealing with the legal presumption of legitimacy of a child born during the continuance of a valid marriage. It sets the foundation for the presumption that a child born to a married woman is legitimate, having been conceived through her lawful husband.



Text of Section 112

Section 112 reads as follows:

"The fact that any person was born during the continuance of a valid marriage between his mother and any man, or within two hundred and eighty days after its dissolution, the mother remaining unmarried, shall be conclusive proof that he is the legitimate son of that man, unless it can be shown that the parties to the marriage had no access to each other at any time when he could have been begotten."


Key Principles of Section 112

1. Conclusive Proof of Legitimacy

  • Section 112 establishes a strong presumption of legitimacy of a child born during the continuance of a valid marriage or within 280 days after its dissolution.

  • The presumption is considered to be 'conclusive proof,' making it difficult to rebut.

2. Conditions for Rebuttal

  • The presumption may be rebutted only by proving that the husband and wife had no access to each other at the time the child could have been conceived.

  • "No access" refers to an absolute impossibility of sexual intercourse between the spouses during the conception period.


Relevant Case Laws

  1. Goutam Kundu vs. State of West Bengal: This landmark case affirmed that the burden of proof lies with the person who denies the legitimacy of the child.

  2. Kamti Devi vs. Poshi Ram: The Supreme Court held that mere non-access between the parties for a certain period is not enough to rebut the presumption of legitimacy under Section 112.


Social and Legal Implications

  • Section 112 upholds the dignity and status of a child born in wedlock by presuming legitimacy.

  • It helps to maintain the sanctity of marriage and protects the child's rights, especially concerning inheritance and succession.


Challenges and Criticisms

  • Some critics argue that Section 112's stringent conditions for rebuttal may lead to injustice in certain cases.

  • Modern scientific advancements like DNA testing may conflict with the conclusive proof principle under Section 112.


Conclusion: Presumption of Child Legitimacy

Section 112 of the Indian Evidence Act forms an essential pillar in the family law of India by upholding the presumption of legitimacy of a child born during the continuance of a valid marriage. The provision balances legal principles with social values, preserving the sanctity of marriage and the child's status within the family.


While the section supports strong societal values, its application in the face of evolving scientific evidence and diverse familial scenarios can present complex legal challenges. The continued relevance and efficacy of Section 112 require a harmonious interpretation that considers both the socio-legal traditions and the evolving realities of modern life.

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