The odds were daunting. Pitted against a Delhi schoolteacher fighting a custody battle were a battery of high-profile lawyers, the money power of her businessman husband and allegations of assaulting her child. But the love for her son kept Sumedha Nagpal going.
“I was accused of abandoning my son when he was just 20 months. It was the love for my child that gave me the courage to counter all allegations,” said Nagpal after the Supreme Court finally gave her the custody of her 11-year-old son.
Arguing her own case, Sumedha fought against heavyweights like senior advocate Shanti Bhushan, and emerged victorious.
A bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat admonished her husband for violating orders that gave visitation rights to the mom. It did not find merit in the father’s plea that unlike Nagpal, who drew Rs 13,000 as salary, he had the money to fulfil his son’s needs and impart him good education.
The court found no strength in the husband’s argument that as a father he was able to provide his son a 3,000 sq-yard house, unlike his mother who stayed in a two-bedroom flat with her parents.
The couple tied the knot in October 1996 and their relationship turned sour, barely two years after the birth of their son in November 1997.
On the husband’s plea that he was spending a good amount of money to educate his child, the court said: “That can be taken care of if father is asked to pay the educational expenses of the child.”
The Supreme Court gave visitation rights to the child’s father.
The court also expressed its concern over a deluge of cases related to divorce or judicial separation. An apprehension was gaining ground that the provisions relating to divorce in the Hindu Marriage Act were the cause for “breaking of homes rather than saving them,” it added.
The actions may be bad but not the provisions, the bench said, advising courts to emphasise on saving marriages: “This is more important in cases where children bear the brunt of dissolution of marriage.”