Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court, Gwalior Bench: S.A. Dharmadhikari, J., while addressing an issue with regard to the custody of a child held that the welfare of child is of paramount importance.

The instant petition was filed to seek habeas corpus direction respondents 1 to 5 to produce the corpus Yatharth before the Court who is alleged to be in illegal detention of respondents 6 to 8.

Brief Facts

Matrimonial dispute between the petitioner and respondent 6 was going on. Respondent 6 used to harass and beat the petitioner and demanded a dowry of Rs 5 lakhs from the petitioner.

Due to some altercation between the husband and wife, respondent 6 had locked the petitioner in a room and took away the minor child Yatharth along with him.

Corpus Yatharth is 15 months old child and has been illegally snatched by the respondent 6/husband and her in-laws from the possession of the petitioner, who is living in her parental house.

When the petitioner requested her husband to hand over the corpus to her, the respondent 6/husband beat the petitioner along with her brother and mother and had tied them with rope. In these circumstances, the petitioner was left with no other option, but to file an FIR.

Analysis and Decision

First Issue: Whether the Habeas Corpus petition is maintainable or not in respect of custody of a minor child, who is in the custody of the father and grandparents at Gwalior?

Court referred to the decision of the Supreme Court in Dushyant Somal v. Sushma Somal, (1981) 2 SCC 277 which dealt with the jurisdictional aspect with regard to the issuance of Habeas Corpus writ in respect of illegal custody of a child.

In view of the above decision, High Court is of the opinion that a writ petition for issuance of a writ in nature of Habeas Corpus under Article 226 in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case is certainly maintainable.

Further, keeping in view the welfare of the child and other factors, the Court opined that the child has to be in the custody of the mother.

Decision

In the present case, the child is aged about 15 months and this Court keeping in view Section 6 of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 is of the opinion that the child has to be given in the custody of the mother.

Bench is of the opinion that the welfare of a child is of paramount importance and the mother/petitioner, who has nurtured the child for 9 months in the womb, is certainly entitled to custody of the child keeping in view the statutory provisions governing the field.

Hence, the Court directed the respondent 6 to 8 to handover the custody of the child to the petitioner.

Accordingly, the instant petition stands allowed. [Madhavi Rathore v. State of M.P., 2020 SCC OnLine MP 1992, decided on 05-09-2020]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: The Three-Judge Bench of Sisira J de Abrew, Vijith Malalgoda PC and P. Padman Surasena, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed against the Judgment of Civil Appellate High Court granting custody of a minor child to her natural parents.

Respondents herein (natural parents of a minor girl Ahingsa Sathsarani Epa) had filed an action in the District Court against appellants praying for a declaration that they are entitled to the legal and physical custody of their daughter. Their plea was dismissed by the learned District Judge, aggrieved whereby they appealed to the Civil Appellate High Court which set aside the impugned order and granted custody of the child to respondents. Hence, the present appeal.

The primary question before the Court was as to whether the welfare of the child would be affected if her custody was given to the respondents, who were her natural parents. It was noted that the child was handed over to appellants by her natural mother, when she was 5 months old as she had a strained relationship with her husband. However, when the appellants sought to adopt the minor when she was around 1 year old, the same was objected to by respondents.

The Court noted that Probation Officer, after conducting a field investigation, had suggested that though the child was not used to the atmosphere of natural parents, they had the capacity and willingness to look after the child. Reliance was placed upon the judgment in Precla W Fernnado v. Dudley W Fernnado, 70 NLR 534 where it was held that “in all questions of custody of children the interests of the children stand paramount. Questions of matrimonial guilt or innocence of a parent would not, therefore, be the sole determining factors in questions of custody”.

It was held that mere delivery of a child by its natural parent to a third party does not invest the transaction with legal consequences; if the parent has right to hand over custody of a child then that parent would also have the undoubted right to resume custody to himself.

In view of the above, the impugned order was affirmed.[Janaka Pushpakumara Kalansooriya v. Jagath Priyantha Epa, 2019 SCC OnLine SL SC 3, decided on 03-04- 2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of G.S. Sistani and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, JJ. dismissed an appeal seeking review of the family court order directing the custody of girl child to be given to her mother.

The family court had granted custody of the girl child, aged 4 years, to her mother. The appellant-father filed the instant appeal under Section 19 of the Family Courts Act. He submitted that the respondent was mentally sick and behaved abnormally. Her violent behavior may have an adverse impact on well-being of the child. On the other hand, the respondent alleged that the appellant was a drunkard. She was often beaten by him and thrown out of the matrimonial home.

The High Court, on a careful reading of the order impugned, noted that the family court had carefully analysed the submissions made and passed the order. The respondent was a commerce graduate with additional qualification in Computer Applications. She was working as a Senior Manager with a private firm on a monthly salary of Rs 25,000. The High Court perused Section 6 of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 which provides that custody of a minor who has not completed the age of five years shall ordinarily be with the mother. Referring to decisions of the Supreme Court in Gayatri Bajaj v. Jiten Bhalla, (2012) 12 SCC 471 and Roxann Sharma v. Arun Sharma, (2015) 8 SCC 318 the High Court reiterated that while dealing with the application of custody of a minor child, the interest and welfare of the minor should be of paramount importance. Conducive and appropriate environment along with the desirability of the child are some of the relevant factors that have to be kept in mind. In the instant case, the child was 4-years old. It was also an established fact that she was comfortable around the respondent. Additionally, the respondent-mother was in a better position to look after her as she would require special attention and guidance in her childhood for her psychological and biological needs. Accordingly, no infirmity was found in the order impugned and the appeal was dismissed. [Tarun Pullani v. Shilpa Pullani,2018 SCC OnLine Del 11520, decided on 27-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of G.S. Sistani and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed against the order of the Family Court whereby interim custody of a minor child was refused to his father.

The appellants were the father and paternal grandparents of the minor child, aged 8 years, concerned in this matter.  The appellant was married to the deceased. A son was born to them within the wedlock. The deceased committed suicide by hanging and an FIR was registered against the appellants. In a petition filed by the respondent – maternal grandparents of the child, interim custody of the minor child was handed over to them. Further, the Family Court, vide the order impugned, declined the interim custody of the child to the appellants. The present appeal was filed under Section 19 of the Family Courts Act.

The High Court carefully examined the order impugned and found no infirmity in it. The Court took into account the fact recorded by the Family Court that the child was not comfortable with the appellants and had refused to meet or talk to them. He even started to weep after seeing his father. The Family Court further recorded that respondents were looking properly after the child and providing him good education. Furthermore, the Family Court recognized that if the child continues to meet with his father under the supervision of family counsellor, it would remove bad feelings in mind of the child against his father. The High Court was of the view that the Family Court made all efforts so that the child may become comfortable with his father before a final review in the matter is taken up. Accordingly, the appeal filed was held to be sans merit and it was, thus, dismissed. [Vijay Kumar Jha v. Shailender Kumar Jha, 2018 SCC OnLine Del 10721, dated 31-07-2018]