Bombay high court tells mother to develop bond with son before seeking custody
The child has been living with his paternal aunt’s family for the past seven years.mumbai Updated: Dec 02, 2017 22:58 IST
The Bombay high court recently appointed a nine-year-old boy’s paternal aunt and her husband as his guardians, asking his biological mother, who lives in the US, to develop an emotional bond with the child before applying for custody.
Justice SC Gupte directed the aunt and her husband to facilitate Skype calls and other electronic communication between the mother, who lives in Nashville at Tennessee, and the child after his school hours, during week-offs and vacations. He added that both parties can decide upon the frequency and duration of the calls so as to better the bonding between mother and child.
The court said the mother is at liberty to apply for guardianship of her child once they have bonded. This, however, is subject to the child’s willingness “to be her ward.”
The child’s father was a non-resident Indian (NRI). The boy was brought to India in January 2010, in accordance with a practice prevailing among certain NRIs — especially those belonging to the Patel community — of bringing children to India and leaving them here till they attain school-going age, meant to help them understand their roots.
The child has thus been living with his paternal aunt’s family for the past seven years. During his stay in India, his father was diagnosed with cancer and his parents thus decided to let him stay with the aunt for a while. The child’s father came to India for treatment and died in April 2014. The mother stayed in the US during this time, owing to personal reasons.
In 2015, the aunt and her husband approached the high court, seeking to be appointed as the child’s guardians as they wanted to admit him to school. Pursuant to court orders, the child was admitted to an ICSE school in Goregaon.
His mother opposed the plea for guardianship, but in September 2016, another high court judge refused to hand over custody to her.
“I do not think that it is possible or even reasonable to pluck a child of eight from one country and plant him in another wholly alien environment overnight,” justice Gautam Patel had said.