Not Safe To Hand Over Child's Custody To Her Father Facing Allegations Of Violent Conduct: HC

The bench took note of the wife's allegations that the man had anger issues and had physically abused her (the woman) in the past.

Bombay High Court

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday said it would not be safe to hand over the custody of a minor girl to her father, who is accused of having anger issues and displaying violent and abusive conduct.

A division bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and Gauri Godse dismissed a petition filed by a 41-year-old UK citizen seeking custody of his three-year-old daughter, who he claims was illegally brought to India by his estranged wife.

The bench took note of the wife's allegations that the man had anger issues and had physically abused her (the woman) in the past.

The bench stated that it is a well-settled principle of law that the courts should decide the issue of custody considering only the best interest of the child. 

The direction to return the child to a foreign jurisdiction must not result in any physical, mental, psychological, or other harm to the child, the HC order said.

"Considering the past conduct of the petitioner having anger issues, it will not be safe to hand over custody of the child to him," the bench said.

It added that the allegations are about the violent and abusive conduct of the petitioner (husband), which concerns the safety of the child and can adversely impact her healthy and safe upbringing.

"The child is a girl of a tender age of three-and-half years and thus requires the care and affection of her mother," the bench said.

The bench, however, noted that a child has the right to have the company of both parents and in the battle between the parents, the child should not suffer. 

The woman has been keeping her estranged husband informed about the child's welfare and has also been permitting video calls between the father and child. It is in the best interest of the child to live with her mother in India and it cannot be held that she was brought here illegally, the high court said. 

As per the plea, the couple got married in 2018 in the US and the girl was born in 2020.

Soon after the child was born, the couple started living separately due to marital disputes for six months. In 2022, they signed a reconciliation agreement and moved to Singapore. 

However, in November 2022, the woman returned to India along with the child and refused to return, following which her husband filed a petition in a court there which ordered joint custody of the child. 

In February this year, the man filed a petition urging the Bombay HC to issue a directive to his estranged wife to comply with the order of the Singapore court and sought his daughter's custody.

The woman opposed the plea and said she was forced to return to India for the safety of herself and her daughter as the man had abused her. The woman said she had filed police complaints against the man in the US and also in Singapore for domestic violence.

-With PTI Input