The court should ascertain wishes of a minor child before taking a final call on his or her custody, says the Supreme Court.
Departing from the prevailing law a bench headed by Justice C K Thakker denied custody of a nine-year-old boy to his natural guardian, the father by permitting the child to live with his maternal grandparents. The father is facing trial for alleged dowry death of his wife.
Justice Thakker pronounced the verdict after the boy expressed his desire to live with his grandparents who took him in their custody after his mother died due to alleged dowry demands by the child’s father.
Reversing the Calcutta High Court judgement, the court said: “Children are not mere chattels nor are they toys for their parents. Simply because the father loves his children and is not shown to be otherwise undesirable does not lead to the conclusion that the welfare of the children would be better promoted by grating their custody to him.”
Allowing the petition of the grandparents, the court rejected the father’s plea that courts should not interview the child while deciding custody matters. The court said it was important to consider the father’s ‘character’ while ascertaining the child’s custody. In this case, the court said, the father was facing criminal prosecution for allegedly harassing his wife for dowry.