Kids aren’t chattels, says Patna HC while granting girl’s custody to father

Apr 11, 2023 10:31 AM IST

The court said the girl will be happier with her father but the situation is not irreversible and would depend on the child’s will in the future

The Patna high court has granted a six-year-old girl’s custody to her father saying “the welfare of the child prevails over legal rights of the parents” and that “children are not chattels or playthings for the parents”.

The high court factored in the girl’s statement. (Shutterstock)
The high court factored in the girl’s statement. (Shutterstock)

A bench of justices Ashutosh Kumar and Harish Kumar said the girl complained about her mother and her stepfather. “A POCSO [Protection of Children From Sexual Offences Act] case also was registered against...[the stepfather] which is pending adjudication.”

The bench said the girl will be happier with her father but the situation is not irreversible and would depend on the child’s will in the future.

The order passed earlier this month but was uploaded on the court’s website on Monday evening.

A family court in Patna last year said it would be more beneficial for the girl to remain with her father while the mother shall have visitation rights during school holidays and important festivals. The mother moved the high court against this order.

The high court said the verdict kept the interest of the girl paramount. “...the better place to stay for the girl would be her father’s house as the girl would have the company of her brother. The girl, in no uncertain terms, has expressed her desire of staying with her father,” the bench said.

The high court factored in the girl’s statement and the views of a clinical psychologist, who found she longed for love and emotional support and will get it from her father and brother.

“It has been held that the welfare and interest of [the] child and not the rights of parents which is the determining factor for deciding the question of custody,” the bench said citing Supreme Court’s rulings and the child’s comfort, contentment, health, education, intellectual development, favourable surroundings, etc.

The father in his plea suspected the fidelity of his ex-wife and said her violent behaviour also troubled him. The relationship at home remained strenuous, he added.

“Because of such a strained relationship between the spouses, a case of divorce was filed by the husband. During the pendency of the case, the parties agreed to go for divorce but by mutual consent with certain conditions. One of the terms of the consensus of the spouses was that the husband shall have custody of the boy whereas the mother will keep the girl with her. It was also agreed upon by the parties that the parents shall have the right to meet the children,” he said.

“However, within seven days of the decree of divorce, the appellant/wife solemnized marriage...” He added he was later denied meetings with his daughter.


    Arun Kumar is Senior Assistant Editor with Hindustan Times. He has spent two-and-half decades covering Bihar, including politics, educational and social issues.

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