HC hears case in open court instead video conferencing, grants custody of child to mother
Bhopal: The Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh (MP) high court (HC) held a hearing in an open court in a child custody case to gauge the child’s willingness and overruled a lower court’s verdict of granting custody of the three-year-old to his father after getting a first-hand feel of his love for his mother.
Though courts across the country have been holding virtual hearing via video-conference links amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, the HC bench made an exception in a bid to fathom the child’s love for his mother.
The mother, a resident of Ujjain district, had filed a petition on January 14 in the HC, challenging the Mandsaur district family court’s order on January 6 that had granted the child’s custody to his father under The Hindu Minority & Guardianship Act, 1956.
The hearing on the petition was delayed due to the prevailing nationwide lockdown restrictions, which were enforced from March 25 to contain the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak.
A hearing was held on June 25, when the court had directed the father to ensure the presence of the child in the court on July 1.
The HC bench upheld the woman’s plea and said that she was from a well-off family and she was able to maintain herself “and it is nobody’s case that the wife doesn’t have an income to look after the child”.
It granted the custody of the child to his mother, and ordered her to allow the father to meet the infant on every alternate Saturday of a month at Mandsaur.
It also directed that the trial court is free to pass a final order and must not be influenced by its own order on January 6 and also the one passed by the HC on July1.
RR Bhatnagar, the woman’s counsel, said: “It’s a unique case, when the court decided to hear the plea in an open court, a departure from the usual practice of hearing through a video-conferencing link because of the viral outbreak. All of us had taken adequate precautions such as wearing masks and maintaining social distancing norms. However, the moment my client removed her mask, the child rushed towards her and came to her lap. The family court, which is hearing the divorce suit filed by the child’s father, will take a final decision on the infant’s custody.”