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'Child welfare vital in custody decision'

india Updated: Jun 10, 2008 01:57 IST

Hindustan Times
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In a divorced couple’s legal battle over their children’s custody, it is the welfare of the minor child/children that should be the paramount consideration, the Supreme Court has said.

“It is trite that while determining to which parent the care and control of a child should be committed, the first and the paramount consideration is the welfare and interest of the child and not the rights of the parents,” a bench of Justices C.K. Thakker and D.K. Jain observed.

“No statute on the subject can ignore, eschew or obliterate the vital factor of the welfare of the minor. The question of the welfare of the minor child has to be considered in the background of the relevant facts and circumstances,” the bench said.

The apex court passed the observation while quashing the appeal filed by Mausami Moitra Ganguli seeking custody of her son, Satyajeet, who lives with her divorced husband Jayant Ganguli in Allahabad.

Mausami, a schoolteacher from Panipat, had challenged an Allahabad High Court order granting custody of Satyajeet to Jayant, a contractor. The high court had passed the direction after Jayant filed a petition challenging a Family Court order granting custody to Mausami. The family court had done so on the ground that Jayant had no regular source of income. The high court reversed the lower court’s order on the reasoning that the father had sufficient resources at his command for Satyajeet’s upbringing.

The bench, which conducted an interview of the child in the judges’ chambers, agreed with the high court. It said, a mere suggestion to Satyajeet that he could be with his mother left the boy crying which indicated the “child’s interest and welfare will be best served if he continues to be in the custody of the father."