Grandparents not child’s natural guardians: HC

Grandparents not child’s natural guardians: HC

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14

When a Mohali resident ended his life, there was no way anyone could have realised that his death would give birth to a legal battle right up to the High Court for his child’s custody; and that too between his mother and his wife; and the daughter would in between will remain with her mother who was in judicial custody.

The out-of-the-ordinary matter was placed before Justice Amol Rattan Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court after a petition was filed by the grandmother. She was seeking the custody of her six-year-old granddaughter after her son committed suicide and his wife and another person were arraigned as accused. The matter will now be decided by Guardian Court after the Bench dismissed the petition.

The Bench was told that the mother, upon her arrest, took the child with her to prison. The petitioner-grandmother filed an application before Mohali Judicial Magistrate First Class on June 15 for the minor’s custody. But the application was dismissed by the Magistrate. The Revisional Court of Mohali Additional Sessions Judge, vide an order dated July 9, also dismissed the plea while upholding the order that the custody could not be given. The mother was the natural guardian and not ready to give the child’s custody to her mother-in-law.

Dismissing the plea, Justice Amol Rattan Singh referred to the contentions raised before the Court that a child’s natural guardian would be the mother up to the age of five and thereafter the father in terms of Section 6 of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act. The child was stated to be above five.

“Had the father been alive, in terms of that provision, he would have been the natural guardian. However, the contention that since the father has died and therefore it would be his parents, especially his mother, who would be the natural guardians of the child, is a contention that cannot be accepted by this Court, at least at this stage, even though the mother is alleged to be an accused in an offence alleged to have been committed by her, punishable under Section 306 of the IPC,” Justice Amol Rattan Singh added.

The Bench further added the commission of offence was still to be proved. The Court had already ordered her release on bail after holding that the trial would obviously take a long time as no prosecution witnesses had been examined and she had remained in custody for about five months.

“Consequently, the petition is dismissed. However, the petition filed by the petitioner under the provisions of the Guardian and Wards Act, to be dealt with wholly on its own merits,” the Bench concluded.

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