Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Ramesh Ranganathan, CJ. and Alok Singh, J. directed the respondent to make sure that every child that was handed over by the ashram was under safe custody of their guardian.

A PIL was filed on the basis of a newspaper report published in the Times of India on account of the disappearance of children from an Ashram at Dehradun by the Uttarakhand State Commission for Protection of Child Rights following which questions were raised as to the loopholes in the physical structure and security arrangement of these ashrams. When the matter was submitted for inquiry to the respective committees, their report had no mention about the missing status of the 18 children. Consequently, an independent committee was set up which has not yet submitted its report.

Hence the Court here considered for fresh examinations wherein 32 children were reportedly handed over to their guardians but on physical verification, it was found that one could not be traceable which was further assured by the respondent that they would continue searching until she was found under safe custody of her guardian.

Accordingly, the petition was disposed of. [Oversight disappearance of Children in the State of Uttarakhand, In re 2018 SCC OnLine Utt 981, decided on 29-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Anthony Dominic, CJ and Dama Seshadri Naidu, J. decided a public interest litigation, wherein it declined to issue guidelines for objective assessment in a scientific manner for the court or other authorities concerned to decide issues relating to custody of children.

The petitioners were estranged husbands involved in cases relating to custody of children, pending before the Family Court with their wives as opposite parties. Grievance of the petitioners was that they often faced adverse orders in matters of visitation rights, interim custody of wards, guardianship and other such issues, before the Family Court. They submitted that the orders passed by the Family Court lacked objective assessment based on scientific criteria and were often passed purely on the subjective satisfaction of the Judges; the ‘interest of the child’ quite often became a casualty. Learned counsel for the petitioners impressed upon the need of laying down scientific guidelines by the High Court for an objective assessment of the welfare of the child which should be prime consideration in disputes of such nature.

The High Court, after duly considering the submissions made on behalf of the parties, held the law to be well settled that in a case where custody of a minor child becomes the subject matter of the dispute between the warring parents, the Court is required to decide the issue keeping the welfare of the child in the forefront. Further, in disputes of such a nature, the Court has to appreciate the issue as a whole, and not by going entirely on the legal rights of the parties. The exercise of such a discretionary power by a Court could not be curtailed by issuing any guidelines, as was sought by the petitioners. On the other hand, if at all the legislature is satisfied that this exercise of power has to be regulated by any statutory yardstick, it is for the legislature to step in and enact any appropriate law as it may be competent to do so.

In such circumstances, the Court held that no such relief as prayed for by the petitioners could be granted and therefore, the petition was dismissed. [Sachin Narayanan Pillai v. State of Kerala,2018 SCC OnLine Ker 1460, decided on 21.3.2018]