The Supreme Court today acceded to the wish of a girl, for whose custody her estranged parents have been fighting legal battles, saying that she was now a major and entitled to enjoy her freedom and the courts should not assume the role of a "super guardian".
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud interacted with the 18- year-old girl in a packed courtroom during which she said that she has become a major and has been pursuing studies in Kuwait and wanted to live with her father.
Trashing the plea of the Kerala-based mother, who was seeking her custody, the court said that the daughter of the couple "without any hesitation, clearly stated that she intends to go back to Kuwait to pursue her career".
"In such a situation, we are of the considered opinion that as a major, she is entitled to exercise her choice and freedom and the court cannot get into the aspect whether she has been forced by the father or not," the court said.
"There may be ample reasons on her behalf to go back to her father in Kuwait, but we are not concerned with her reasons. What she has stated before the court, that alone matters and that is the heart of the reasoning for this court, which keeps all controversies at bay," the bench said.
"It needs no special emphasis to state that attaining the age of majority in an individual's life has its own significance. She/he is entitled to make her/his choice.
"The courts cannot, as long as the choice remains, assume the role of parens patriae. The daughter is entitled to enjoy her freedom as the law permits and the court should not assume the role of a super guardian being moved by any kind of sentiment of the mother or the egotism of the father. We say so without any reservation," it said.
The bench was hearing the plea of the Kerala-based woman seeking contempt action against her Kuwait-based estranged husband for not obeying the orders of the apex court in the custody matter of their son and daughter.
While the daughter has now turned major, the son is still a minor.
"As far as the son is concerned, he is still a minor. The counsel for the respondent-husband submits that as per the order...The petitioner-mother will be entitled to have interim custody during his summer vacation.
"However, if during the summer vacation, the son is undergoing any essential summer courses, that period will be excluded (not exceeding one month)," the bench said.
Disposing of the case, the court said that the father shall pay a sum of Rs 50,000 to the mother on every visit of their son.
"The respondent-husband shall inform the petitioner- mother about the flight and other relevant details well in advance. Needless to say, the petitioner-mother would be entitled to talk to the son and the respondent-husband shall not create any kind of disturbance in that regard," it said.
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