A woman cannot be compelled to choose between her child and job, as such restrictions will either jeopardise her career or infringe upon her parental rights, the Bombay high court has said.
The court was hearing a case filed by a doctor seeking the custody of her 13-year-old daughter.
“The appellant (the mother) cannot be deprived of the custody of a child merely because she chose to pursue her career in a foreign country,” said the division bench of justice Ranjit More and justice Anuja Prabhudessai, while handing over the custody of the child to the mother.
After her divorce with her husband — also a doctor — in May 2008, the woman had gone to Denmark for a research project on cancer. Under the consent terms, the woman had agreed to keep their daughter in custody of her father and retained visiting rights. The woman’s ex-husband remarried.
However, while in Denmark, the woman received a mail from her daughter saying she wanted to stay with the mother. The woman then came to India and filed an application seeking the child’s custody. During the course of the hearing, the daughter was made to meet a counsellor, before whom she repeated her request.
The family court, however, rejected the woman’s plea, stating wishes of the girl could be “emotionally charged” and cannot override her welfare.
The woman then challenged the family court order before the high court, where the judges interviewed the girl and noticed she was mature enough to take the decision.
The HC rejected the father’s apprehension that uprooting the child from her local environment and compelling her to adjust in a foreign country will have adverse impact on her development. “Young children are more resilient than adults,” the judges said.