Observing it would not be safe to hand over the custody of a minor daughter to her father, who is accused of having anger issues and violent and abusive behaviour, the Bombay High Court has refused to grant him custody.
A division bench of Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and Gauri Godse dismissed the petition filed by a 41-year-old US citizen, who subsequently shifted to Singapore, seeking his child’s custody alleging that his estranged wife illegally brought the child to India.
Allegations of Violence and Abuse
While dismissing the plea, the court took note of the wife’s allegations that the man had anger issues and has physically abused her in the past. The woman had filed complaint of domestic violence against the man in the US and Singapore.
In a detailed 59-page order, the HC said that it was a well-settled principle of law that the courts should decide in the child custody matters keeping in mind the best interest of the child.
Further, it said that 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 court 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 order read. It added that the man’s violent and abusive conduct concerns the safety of the child and can adversely impact the healthy and safe upbringing of the child.
Tender Age Consideration
The judges added that the girl is of a “tender age of three and half years and thus requires the care and affection of her mother”.
The child has the right to have company of both the parents and should not suffer in the parents’ battle.
Informative Custodial Arrangements
The woman assures the court that she has been keeping her estranged husband informed about the child's welfare and has also been permitting video calls between the father and child.
Emphasising that it was in the best interest of the child to live with her mother in India, the bench noted that it cannot be held that the child was brought here illegally.
Background of Marital Disputes
The couple married in 2018 in the US where they had the child in 2020. After the child’s birth, they lives separately for six months due to marital disputes. In 2022, they signed a reconciliation agreement and moved to Singapore. The woman, however, returned to India along with the child and refused to return.
The man then approached a court in Singapore which ordered joint custody of the child. He then filed a petition before the HC seeking the child’s custody and direction to his estranged wife to comply with the Singapore court order.
However, the woman opposed the plea contending that the she was forced to return to India for her and her child's safety as the man had abused her.