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Civil Appeal No 3962 of 2016J.A.K.SikriVivek Singh vs Romani SinghChild Custody

Assessment of Child’s Welfare For Custody Possible Only After Level Playing Field Is Given To Both Parents

(1) Within the few days, i.e. on August 26, 2010, the respondent filed the petition seeking custody of the child and for appointment of her guardian. She did not lose any time making her intentions clear that as a natural mother she wanted to have the custody of the child. It was her mis-fortune that the trial court vide its judgment dated December 07, 2011 dismissed her petition. Though, she filed the appeal against the said judgment immediately, but during the pendency of the appeal, the custody remained with the appellant because of the dismissal of the petition by the Family Court. The High Court has, by impugned judgment dated April 02, 2013 granted the custody to the respondent. However, the respondent has not been able to reap the benefit thereof because of the interim orders passed in the instant appeal. It is in these circumstances that child Saesha from the tender age of 21 months has remained with the appellant and today she is 8 years and 3 months. Obviously, because of this reason, as of today, she is very much attached to the father and she thinks that she should remain in the present environment. A child, who has not seen, experienced or lived the comfort of the company of the mother is, naturally, not in a position to comprehend that the grass on the other side may turn out to be greener. Only when she is exposed to that environment of living with her mother, that she would be in a position to properly evaluate as to whether her welfare lies more in the company of her mother or in the company of her father. As of today, the assessment and perception are one sided. Few years ago, when the High Court passed the impugned judgment, the ground realities were different.

(2) No doubt, this presumption in favour of maternal custody as sound child welfare policy, is rebuttable and in a given case, it can be shown that father is better suited to have the custody of the child. Such an assessment, however, can be only after level playing field is granted to both the parents. That has not happened in the instant case so far.

(3) It is also to be emphasised that her mother is a teacher in a prestigious Kendriya Vidyala school. Saesha is herself a school going child at primary level. If Saesha is admitted in the same school where her mother is teaching, not only Saesha would be under full care and protection of the mother, she would also be in a position to get better education and better guidance of a mother who herself is a teacher.