Bihar court imposes Rs 1-crore cost on woman for ‘frivolous’ plea seeking grandchild’s custody

Hindustan Times, Bhagalpur | By
Nov 18, 2017 04:35 PM IST

The court at Bhagalpur in Bihar ordered the petitioner to deposit Rs 1 crore for a fixed term in the name of the child.

A family court in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district recently granted the legal custody of a three-year-old girl to her father and imposed an exemplary cost of Rs 1 crore on the petitioner, the child’s maternal grandmother, for “indulging in frivolous and vexatious litigation”.

The court at Bhagalpur granted the custody of the three-year-old child to her father.
The court at Bhagalpur granted the custody of the three-year-old child to her father.

The court of principal judge SG Mishra ordered Geeta Devi to deposit Rs 1 crore for a fixed term in the name of the child, Bhavita, and handover the receipt to her father Ramesh G Murty, a resident of Ghaziabad in the national capital region (NCR).

The judge felt that if Devi and her immediate family members were left unpunished for “misleading the court”, it would amount to encouraging wrongdoers.

The court passed the order on October 17, 2017, but the certified copy of the verdict was made available only this week.

Devi had filed the petition seeking custody of the child under provisions of Guardians and Wards Act, 1890, on September 9, 2014. In her petition, she said her daughter Mridula Lata had married Murty in 2004. Mridula died during child birth at a Noida hospital in NCR in May 2014 as she was “not properly taken care of” by her son-in-law, Devi said

She further claimed there was no female member in the family of Murty and therefore “I readily accepted my son-in-law’s proposal of bringing up the child.” Devi said, adding that after she brought the child with her to Bhagalpur, Murty neither visited them to see his daughter nor met the expenses incurred on her upbringing.

Murty’s lawyer Ram Kumar Mishra said the allegations against his client were found to be false by the court. The court was satisfied with documents that showed Murthy was very much concerned about the health of his wife during pregnancy, he said. The documents also proved that Devi had brought the child without Murty’s consent, the lawyer said, adding that his client had registered a case of kidnapping against Devi and her family members at Indrapuram police station in Ghaziabad.

“During the course of the hearing in the case, the family court had ordered interim custody of the child to her father but Devi and her family members had managed to “escape” with the child, Ram Kumar Mishra added.

Subsequently Murty moved the Patna high court over non-compliance of the family court’s order. The high court, however, said it would hear the matter after the final verdict of the family court, Ram Kumar Mishra said.

The lawyer said Bhavita had been handed over to her father after court verdict.

Senior advocate Abhay Kant Jha, who represented the petitioner, said the verdict would be challenged in the Patna high court soon. While seeking the custody of the child, Devi had claimed that she could provide love, affection and all facilities for her proper upbringing,” Jha added.

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    Avijit has around 20 years of experience in journalism and reports across beats for HT from Bhagalpur and adjoining districts of eastern Bihar.

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