High Court of Karnataka: In its recent judgment, a Single Bench of Ashok B. Hinchigeri & K.S. Mudagal, JJ. observed that “habeas corpus cannot be granted when a person has been committed to custody under an order from a competent court.”

The petitioner brought an appeal against his ex-wife for wrongfully detaining their daughter, after a consensual divorce order was passed by the Court of Maricopa and awarded joint legal decision-making regarding the child. The petitioner alleged that the respondent detained the child beyond the vacation schedule and since then he had denied access to the petitioner. The respondent submits to the Court that the Family Court has granted an interim order restraining the petitioner from interfering with the lives of the respondent and her daughter. She further submits that neither is India a signatory to the Hague Convention by which the orders of the American Court could be enforced against her, nor is the writ of the petitioner maintainable as per the Family Court’s order. In her defense, she claims that the petitioner had coerced her into submission to the jurisdiction of the American Court, and Section 13(c), (e) and (f) of the Code of Civil Procedure renders the American Court’s order inconclusive and not binding upon her.

The Court observed that the facts of judgments relied upon by the petitioner were different from those of the case present before it. The bench held that the writ is unavailable when a competent court of law, in pursuance of a subsisting order, has handed over the custody of the child to the mother. It further noted that the writ of habeas corpus cannot be maintained, and the Family Court was the competent court in this matter. [Sriram Sankaran v. State of Karnataka, Writ Petition No. 164 of 2016, decided on 29-05-2017]

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