Children aren’t pawns in parents’ hands: HC : The Tribune India

Children aren’t pawns in parents’ hands: HC

Says their welfare of paramount importance, needs to be assessed before handing over interim custody to any of the parents

Children aren’t pawns in parents’ hands: HC


Tribune News Service

Saurabh Malik

Chandigarh, January 23

Children are not pawns in the parents’ hands. Their welfare is of paramount importance and needs to be assessed before handing over the interim custody to any of the parents, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asserted. The Bench also made it clear that handing over the interim custody of minors, who did not appear to be comfortable for whatsoever reasons and were refusing to open up with a parent, would be a drastic measure.

The assertion by Justice Alka Sarin came on a father’s petition challenging order dated August 3, 2022, passed by a family court, directing the handing over the interim custody of minors to the respondent-mother. Justice Sarin observed various efforts were made by the court through a counsellor and an advocate appointed as amicus curiae or friends of the court to try and bridge the gap between the minors and the respondent-mother.

It was difficult to point to any particular reason as to why the minors, being tutored or otherwise, did not open up to the respondent-mother despite numerous efforts. “Not even on a single occasion did the minor children have a meaningful conversation with the respondent-mother. In a situation where the minor children are 12 and eight-year-old and do not appear to be comfortable with the respondent-mother for whatsoever reasons and are refusing to open up to her, it would be a drastic measure to hand over their interim custody to her,” Justice Sarin asserted.

In her detailed order, Justice Sarin added their welfare was of paramount importance and needed to be assessed before handing over the interim custody. The effect of such an order on the physical and mental wellbeing of the children was required to be considered by the court.

Justice Sarin added the petitioner-father, additionally, was at the moment working from home and also had an aunt living with him to look after the children. The respondent-mother, on the other hand, was living in a rented accommodation and paying Rs 19, 000 as monthly rent. Her monthly in-hand salary was less than the rental she was paying.

“Though it has been contended by the counsel for the respondent-mother that her parents would be helping her in looking after the children, at this stage, keeping in view her income and office timings of 10 am to 6 pm, as also the welfare of the children, this court is not inclined to hand over the interim custody of the minor children to the respondent-mother,” Justice Sarin added.

Setting aside the impugned order, Justice Sarin directed the petitioner-father, as an interim measure, to facilitate the respondent-mother in interacting with the children through video-calling daily. The family court was also requested to dispose of the main petition expeditiously, preferably within six months.

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