The moral and ethical welfare of the child must also weigh with the court as well as his/her physical well-being, observed the Bombay High Court while granting custody of a minor child to his paternal aunt.
Justice Riyaz Chagla, while granting custody to the aunt, also noted that his biological mother suffered from “deep psychological issues” and father was very aggressive.
The order was passed while hearing a plea by the aunt seeking to be appointed as the legal guardian of the child and for his custody to be handed over to her.
In a detailed order, the judge, who interacted with the child, remarked that the child was emotionally attached to the petitioner woman, because he has been under her love and care since birth.
“The moral and ethical welfare of the child must also weigh with the Court as well as his/ her physical well-being,” the bench said.
The role of the Court in exercising its ‘parens patriae’ jurisdiction would apply in the present case despite the petitioner not being a parent but an aunt of the minor child, Justice Chagla said.
“The biological mother has deep psychological issues and this was also noticed whilst passing of this order in court as there was a huge commotion caused by her (biological mother) which disturbed the court proceedings. The respondent No 1 (biological father) is also very aggressive,” the judge added.
The court further added: “Having taken into consideration the welfare of the minor child whilst exercising parens patriae jurisdiction, in my view, the welfare of the minor child will be best served by the petitioner and that the petitioner is required to be declared the true and lawful guardian of the minor child.”
The court has allowed the biological parents access to the minor child.
According to the aunt’s plea, when the child was born, her brother and his wife, who suffers from psychological disorders, had agreed to hand over custody of the baby to her. Hence, the Wadia hospital, where the child was born, had issued the discharge card in the aunt’s name.
The aunt, who’s a widow and does not have any children of her own, claimed she was in a better position financially to take care of the welfare of the child. Her plea contended that whenever the child went to his biological parents’ home, he fell ill and had to take medical treatment.
Surprisingly, her brother lodged a complaint with the Bhoiwada police station against her in March 2021, alleging that she abducted the child.
She then handed over the child’s custody to the parents. However, within two months, the parents asked her to take the child back claiming his health had deteriorated.