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No tug of war over kids between couples

The High Court has quashed a sessions court order that made three minors shuttle between the houses of their warring parents every alternate month. The court has also asked the parents to decide whom the children will remain with till the case is decided, reports Urvi Mahajani.

mumbai Updated: Sep 12, 2009 00:57 IST
Urvi Mahajani

The High Court has quashed a sessions court order that made three minors shuttle between the houses of their warring parents every alternate month.

The court has also asked the parents to decide whom the children will remain with till the case is decided.

Hearing an appeal on Friday filed by Pune-based Mary Pinto, the mother of the children, under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (DV), 2005, Justice Abhay Oka quashed the sessions court order, calling it “traumatic for the children”.

Two years ago, the sessions court had asked the parents, Mary and her husband Cedric, to share custody of the children — two girls and a boy aged 16, 14 and 12 respectively — every alternate month.

“Such an approach, to say the least, is shocking,” said Justice Oak while quashing the lower court’s order.

“The learned sessions judge has not at all considered the effect of this arrangement on the minors,” Justice Oka noted.

The judge further pointed out that, “The act of disturbing custody of the minors every month will cause them mental trauma.”

The high court has also restored the children’s custody to the father and allowed visits by the mother till her application filed before the magistrate under the Domestic Violence Act is decided.

“For whatever reasons, for a substantially long time, the custody of the minors has remained with the father. Now it will not be in the interest of the minors to disturb the father’s custody till the main application is decided,” the court observed.

As Cedric was not present in court when the order was pronounced, the high court has asked the couple to reach an interim arrangement on custody till the magistrate decides on Mary’s application.

It has also asked the magistrate to expedite the mater, preferably within three months.

The sessions court, on December 19, 2007, had ordered the parents to share the children’s custody every alternate month.

The high court order reasoned that the children, when interviewed by the judge in his chamber, had wished their parents should stay together.

The sessions judge had asked the parents to reconcile in view of the wish of their children, but that reconciliation did not happen.

The children had also told the sessions court judge that they would like to celebrate Christmas and the New Year this year in the company of their parents.