LAHORE: When Irshad Virk and Maratab Ali both claimed an ‘infant’ was theirs, the high court ordered DNA tests to settle the matter once and for all.

At stake isn’t the paternity of a child but the owner of a calf and the loser faces prosecution for cattle rustling. The order by the Lahore Court is believed to be the first time DNA tests have been carried out to settle a dispute over the ownership of a farm animal.

According to Maratab Ali, a cattle farmer in Chicha Watni, in Sahiwal district, Irshad Virk, a rival from Sheikhupura district, stole his prize calf and took it to his farm some an estimated 100 miles away. He first reported the calf missing in February this year and told police he had seen Virk taking the calf after he visited his farm. He filed an FIR against his rival who has denied the allegation. Local arbitrators suggested the dispute could only be settled through a DNA test to establish whether the calf is related to one of Virk’s cows or one belonging to Maratab Ali. The Lahore High Court yesterday supported the suggestion and the tests are now set to be carried out.

The petitioner, Irshad Virk, had claimed a Live Stock Department team had already taken a DNA test and declared him was not the real owner of the disputed calf. He rejected the report and said samples were taken only from the complainant’s cow but not from one of his. He asked for the court to set aside the Live Stock Department report and order fresh DNA tests to be carried out based on samples from both herds.

After hearing arguments of the petitioner’s counsel, Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan of the LHC said that the petitioner’s request was reasonable and ordered the Live Stock Department secretary to commission a fresh DNA report. Reaction quote needed here from women’s rights casmpaigner on in justice – the court is fairer to cows than wronged women.