Supreme Court rules DNA acceptable as evidence to prove extramarital sex

Supreme Court. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

The Supreme Court has ruled that DNA must be accepted as evidence to prove the crime of zina (extramarital sex) if there are other persuasive corroborative evidence in the case. 

The court issued the ruling in response to a case involving a woman who confessed to bearing a child out of wedlock, and named the man who fathered the child. 

The State charged the man in question with engaging in extramarital sex, following a DNA match between the man and the child. 

The State based the charge on testimony from the woman and the DNA analysis report. 

However, the man denied the charge, and the magistrate court which heard the case acquitted him. 

The State appealed the decision with the High Court, citing violation of judicial and legal standards. 

However, the court ruled in favor of the original verdict, and the State filed a subsequent appeal with the Supreme Court. 

The Supreme Court bench which heard the case was composed of Justice Husnu Al Suood, Justice Dr. Azmiralda Zahir, and Justice Aisha Shujoon Mohamed. 

The court issued its decision in the case on Sunday. 

Suood – who led the bench – referred to Article 411 (c) of the Penal Code, which declares the four-witness rule. 

Article 411 (c) of the Penal Code: If the offense in Subsection (a) (unlawful intercourse) is proven with comparably persuasive evidence other than the testimony of four witnesses or self-confession, such as DNA evidence or evidence of pregnancy, the offense is one grade lower than it would otherwise be 

Suood said the provision establishes that evidence such as DNA can be used in Maldives to prove hudud crimes.  

The court therefore found the man guilty of engaging in extramarital sex. 

“Where offenders who engage in hudud crimes and qisas crimes cannot be meted out the punishments set under Islamic Sharia due to reasonable doubt for various procedural reasons, Islamic Sharia permits for them to be meted out a tazir punishment,” said Suood. 

Suood’s opinion was backed by Azmiralda and Shujoon. 

The Supreme Court has instructed the High Court to reopen the case based on the points highlighted by the court.