A man spending a few days in jail cannot be the reason to deny him of his child’s custody, said the Bombay High Court. In a reprieve to a leading city builder, the Bombay High Court granted custody of his 11-year-old son while rejecting his wife’s appeal. The mother can meet the son every weekend.
A division bench of Justice A.P. Deshpande and Justice R.P. Sondurbaldota said: “In our view, the arrest of the father and his detention for a period of 14 days in police custody will have absolutely no bearing in determining the question of guardianship and custody for the reason that he was not even prosecuted though arrested.”
“There is hardly any material on record to indicate that the character of the respondent is not good so as to refuse him the relief claimed,” observed the judges.
The couple, belonging to Sunni Muslim sect, got married in March 1997.
Six years ago, he was arrested for an offence investigated by the Mumbai Police’s Economic Offence Wing.
The man claimed that his wife neglected the child and left the house and the son when he was just 13 months old.
The court also took a note of the provisions of the Muslim Personal Law, which says that father is the natural guardian of a child. Under the law, the mother is entitled to custody of her male child until he is seven years and of the female child until she attains puberty. The court had interviewed the child who wanted to stay with his father.
“The wishes of the minor also need to be considered by the court if the minor is old enough to form an intelligent preference,” said the court.