CHENNAI: The welfare and future of the children of estranged couples should be given paramount importance while dealing with custody cases, the Madras High Court has ruled.
It said the interest of the minor children has to be ascertained by enquiry.
Courts are not expected to grant custody of minors in a routine manner, merely based on allegations and counter-allegations set out in the petition and counter affidavit.
“Courts are expected to ascertain the genuinity of interest involved in matters of custody. A deeper enquiry with reference to the state of mind of the children is required,” a division bench of Justices S M Subramaniam and J Sathya Narayana Prasad said in its recent order.
The bench was allowing an appeal from a city-based woman head constable, who had challenged an order passed in April this year by a Family Court, which granted custody of her two minor children to her erstwhile husband, who in turn left the children at his sister’s house.
After quashing the order of the Family Court, the bench directed the man, employed with state-run discom TANGEDCO, to hand over the custody of the children to their mother on the same day of the order, with all the certificates, documents and their belongings.
The judges also said he has no right of visitation of the minor children and shall not interfere with their life or with their activities.
In the event of any violation in this regard by the estranged husband, the woman is at liberty to approach the jurisdictional police for all necessary action in the manner known to law, the judges added.
The woman got married to the man in December, 2012.
Due to difference of opinion and misunderstanding, the couple applied mutually for divorce and the Family Court granted the relief in August, 2018.
The husband applied for custody of the children and the court granted the plea.
He subsequently left the children at his sister’s house.
Hence, the estranged wife moved the High Court with the present appeal.
“Beyond such pleadings, the psychological aspect of the children, the real interest involved and what would be better for their future have to be necessarily considered as the children are the backbone of our great nation. They are the nation builders. A good family alone can create a good nation. Every child has got a right to get a better life as enunciated in the Indian Constitution. Right to life includes a decent life and not mere animal life.”
“The life of minor children has to be protected by all concerned. It is the duty of Courts to ensure that minor children are protected and their interests, vision and wishes are preserved to the extent possible to provide them a better future as it is the mandate of the State under the Constitution,” the judges said after meeting the two children and ascertaining their wishes.