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Custody Cases
Judiciary should adopt proactive approach: HC
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
The Punjab and Haryana High Court wants subordinate courts to adopt a proactive approach in child custody cases for aborting “unwarranted delays”.

It has made it clear that all child custody cases need to be accorded top priority. Data of all such cases has also been called for to ensure systematic and expeditious disposal.

As of now, the exact number of guardianship cases pending before the “lower courts” in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh is yet to be tabulated. But available information suggests more than a few cases have been pending adjudication for over half a decade now.

Delay in handing over the custody, more often than not, leaves the child of a disturbed family “divided”. It is believed the lingering sense of uncertainty also slams shut the chapter of academic excellence.

The clarion call to all courts by Justice SD Anand of the High Court comes on a petition by an Amritsar resident. He was seeking the custody of his minor granddaughter, following the death of the girl’s parents. The girl is currently with her maternal grandparents. The matter has been pending for over a year now.

Taking up the matter, Justice Anand observed: “The grievance of the petitioner is vis-à-vis the long pendency of matter pertaining to child custody. The case of such-like category — the custody of children — requires to be accorded top priority. It has been observed that there has been an inordinate delay in the disposal of the matter of this category at the hands of various courts in the state of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.”

“The registry is directed to obtain from all courts concerned the details about pendency of such matters, including all relevant particulars, that is the date on which the petition came to be instituted, and also the present status,” the Justice observed.

The matter will now come up for hearing in the third week of April.

In their petition, the grandfather had sought directions to the “guardian judge” in Amritsar to dispose of the case under the Guardian and Wards Act.

The petitioner had claimed that their “entire family life had been ruined due to the sudden death of his only son, followed by unfortunate death of the daughter-in-law”.

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