Madras High Court sets aside order saying that wife must offer tea, snacks to estranged husband when he visits child

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The Madras High Court recently set aside a single-judge order that said that a wife who had separated from her husband must offer tea and snacks to him and eat with him when he visits their child.

A Division Bench of Justices Paresh Upadhyay and D Bharatha Chakravarthy said that while deciding the issue of visitation rights, the single-judge had got swayed and had gone on to speak about how the conduct of the parties should be. Such observations were unnecessary, the present Bench noted.

“We find that, learned Single Judge, while attempting to facilitate visitation, is swayed away by what should be the conduct of the parties towards each other, including serving of snacks/tea to the other side. We find that, prescribing such stipulations and many of the observations are less relevant for deciding the rights of the parties, or to address the grievances of the parties. The same therefore, call for interference,” the Bench said while quashing the order.

In his order passed on July 13 this year, the single-judge, Justice Krishnan Ramasamy, had made the observations while noting that he had came across many instances of one spouse ill-treating the other when they came to visit the child.

“The spouse shall treat other spouse, though not as wife/husband due personal indifferences, but at least treat him/her as a guest by paying more attention than wife/husband since in our customs and practice, a guest is treated as “Athidi Devo Bhava (Guest is God)”, the order under challenge stated.

In her appeal, the wife argued that the single-judge order had less to do with the prayer of the parties, and instead, went on to talk about how must the wife behave when her estranged husband was visiting their child.

She also informed the Court that while the single-judge had granted visitation rights to the man, she was now leaving Chennai and moving to Gurugram for a new job. The couple’s daughter, who has been living with the woman since they separated in 2017, had also been admitted to a new school in that city, the petitioner woman said.

The husband, however, argued that the woman’s grievance was with certain observations made by the single-judge. Therefore, while those could be expunged, there must not be any interference in the visitation rights granted to him.

The Division Bench, however, said that since the woman and the child were moving to Gurugram, the husband “may explore the possibility of going to Gurugram if he so wishes, with prior intimation.”

Advocate R Harikrishnan appeared for the petitioner woman. Advocates RS Akila and Sudha Ramalingam appeared for the respondent husband.

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