In a rare instance of seeking custody of a child, a minor mother has approached the Bombay High Court and sought custody of her infant daughter.
The writ petition filed by a merely 17-year-old mother has sought the custody of her infant daughter, who is currently being looked after by a Hindu Mahila Ashram, in Matunga, Mumbai.
In the petition it is stated that the petitioner (minor mother), who is Hindu by religion had married a Muslim man of major age. (i.e above 18 years)
The mother has stated in her petition that she married her husband by following Muslim rituals in a mosque, as her Hindu family was against their love relationship, especially her father.
She has alleged that her father also lodged an FIR against her husband under several sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and another complaint with the said Ashram to take away the child.
“My father had registered an FIR on his own will and accord and that too without asking me. Around 15-days after the FIR, the Hindu Mahila Ashram, took away my baby from me,” the petition states.
The mother has also mentioned that, even a special POCSO court did not help her to get her daughter’s custody. She states, “Even the special POCSO court showed that it was powerless to grant any relief in this case, despite her several requests.”
“The Petitioners (both mother and father) are caring, loving and willing to lead a happy life alongwith their child, which is in the care and custody of the said Ashram,” the petition reads.
Urging the court to give the custody to the minor mother, the petition states, “At this tender age the child requires the mother and keeping the natural mother away from the child is ‘very dangerous’.”
“We will take full responsibility of the child and denying the right to the real mother will not be in the interest of the child,” the petition further reads.
Speaking about the petition, Asif Naqvi, the counsel representing the minor mother, said, “Till the best of my knowledge, this is a rare instance wherein a minor mother has approached the court to acquire custody of her infant.”
“The petition is likely to be heard by a division bench presided over by Justice Naresh Patil and Justice Prakash Naik, in the coming month,” he added.
When asked about the legal rights of a mother, especially a ‘minor’ mother, advocate Hiten Venegaonkar said, “The custody of a child has to be with either of its natural parents. That is the law of land, but in given situation unfortunately Indian law does not recognize minor parent.
Therefore, in the welfare of the child, legal custody is to be handed over to immediate next guardian of the minor parent or if nobody is there then to a government agency who can look into the welfare of child.”