Karnataka High Court grants custody of minor son to father; says mother neglecting child, giving more importance to illicit relationship

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The Karnataka High Court recently upheld the order of a family court handing over the custody of a minor boy to his father as the court found that the child’s mother gave more importance to her illicit relationship with another man [Dr Ekta Singh vs Rajeev Giri].

A division bench of Justices Alok Aradhe and S Vishwajith Shetty noted that the mother, who had the custody of the minor son, was in an illicit relationship and after leaving her matrimonial house, she was living with that person in a rented apartment.

“If the issue regarding the relationship of the mother with the other man juxtaposition the welfare of the child is considered, it appears that she has given more importance to the illicit relationship of hers and has neglected the child. After she left the matrimonial home, she had handed over custody of the child to her parents at Panchakula, Chandigarh and she continued her stay in Bengaluru and the material on record would go to show that she was constantly moving with the man. Therefore, it can safely presumed that she bothered least about the welfare and interest of the child and she had taken the child away from his father only out of vengeance,” the bench observed in an order passed on January 31.

The bench was hearing a mother’s plea challenging the order of a family court that handed over the child’s custody to the father.

In its order, the High Court noted that the mother herself did not get proper love of her parents as she was brought up by her grandparents.

“It appears therefore, that she has no respect or value for the relationships and she was in the habit of quarrelling on silly issues. She also did not want to stay with her in-laws, and therefore, she saw to it that they left the house. In spite of such behaviour, the in-laws came back to the house, when she was pregnant and they not only took care of her during her pregnancy, but also took care of the child. Despite all this, she deliberately raised quarrel with them and threw them out of the house,” the bench noted.

Further, the Court noted that the wife had been behaving in a rude manner even during the family counselling sessions ordered by the family court. She also did not obey the orders of both the family court and also the High Court to grant access to her in-laws to the child .

In its 82-page order, the bench also emphasized on the need for the courts to ensure welfare of the child in such custody battles. It said courts must appreciate the conduct, behaviour and character of the respective parties, keeping in mind as to who would be the better suitable person when it comes to taking care of the welfare of the child.

“The Court is not only required to consider the bonding and comfort of the child, but also the environment in which it is presently growing keeping in mind about the welfare and future growth of child. In addition to financial security, it must also consider if the parent would be available for the child when it is in need of their love and affection and under whose care and protection the child would have a better future,” the bench observed.

Further, the Court stressed on the fact that the moral, ethical welfare and the physical well-being of the child must be considered.

“Home is the first school of the child and parents are its first teachers. When the child is deprived of a proper parenthood, its overall growth and happiness gets affected and in such situation, the Courts are not only required to consider the comforts and attachments of the child but should also consider the surroundings in which the child is growing, the moral and ethical values which the child learns by observation, availability of care and affection when the child needs it most and thereafter strike a balance which would be more beneficial for the child’s welfare and interest,” the bench observed.

With these observations, the bench upheld the family court’s order.

Senior Advocate RVS Naik along with advocate Omar Sharrif appeared for the wife.

Senior Advocate S Srivatsa along with advocate N Gowtham Raghunath represented the husband.

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