Putative father has rights to visit his minor child: Delhi High Court

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The Delhi High on Thursday held that a putative father is entitled to visitation rights of a minor child and that while granting such rights, the well-being of a child is of paramount importance [Kinri Dhir v Veer Singh].

Justice V Kameswar Rao said that there cannot be any dispute that the child has a right to love and affection of both the parents which supersedes the privileges of both the parents.

“It cannot be disputed that the respondent, being a putative father shall be entitled to visitation rights. While determining and granting such rights, more so when the child is of less than three years of age, surely his well-being/ welfare is of paramount importance. At the same time, the minor must not be insulated from parental touch [Ref: Ruchi Majoo (supra)] and influence of the other parent for healthy growth of child and development of his personality,” the Court said.

Justice Rao was dealing with a petition filed by mother of a two-and-half-year-old boy challenging the order of the family court which granted the boy’s putative father visitation rights for two hours every day.

The petition said that the family court had given the visitation rights on the grounds that the respondent (putative father) had admitted paternity of the minor child and that both petitioner and respondent were residing in the same premises although on different floors. But these grounds were misconceived, the petition said.

It was argued that the trial court had disregarded the welfare of the child by permitting unsupervised access and left it open for the respondent to take wherever he pleased between the two hour window.

Counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that it was the stand of the respondent that the minor child is his illegitimate son and now born out of a wedlock. Therefore, he is the putative father who is not akin to biological father and, hence, preference should be given to the biological mother.

However, counsel appearing for respondent said that they have never disputed the paternity of the minor child and that he is providing for all his needs. It was also submitted that the respondent is a devoted father and it is the petitioner who is trying to extract huge sums of money from him despite the fact that he has been bearing all her expenses.

It was submitted that the sole purpose of the petition was to exclude him from the life of the child.

Relying on the Supreme Court judgement in Amyra Dwivedi, the High Court said that the apex court has held that in case a parent is not granted custody, he/ she shall be entitled to visitation rights and therefore the question before it was whether the visitation rights granted in father favour was justified or not.

Justice Rao said that the child’s ties with father should not be completely and perpetually stopped. In order to ensure a healthy emotional quotient and robust psychological growth for which the affection of both parents is necessary, the Court opined.

The judge, therefore, modified the family court order directing that instead of daily visitation, the father will be allowed to visit the child on alternate week days for two hours between 6 pm and 8 pm.

On Sunday, the respondent will be allowed to pick up the child from his mother’s place at 11 am and return him at 5 pm. The putative father was also directed to ensure safety of the child by ensuring adherence to all Covid protocols.

The Court also allowed him to talk to the child through video/audio call once a day for 10 minutes on days he is not visiting him personally.

With these directions, the petition was disposed of.

Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra along with advocate Shivani Luthra Lohiya, Asmita Narula, Anubhav Singh and Priyanka Prasanth appeared for the petition.

Respondent was represented by Senior Advocate Rebecca M John, along with advocates Gauri Rishi, Manav Gupta, Srishti Juneja, Garima Sehgal, Sahil Garg, Ankit Gupta and Praavita Kashyp. Advs.

Read Judgment here

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