Conversion no ground to deny child custody: Court

Religious conversion of a woman cannot be a reason for disqualifying her custodial rights over a child from a previous marriage.

Updated: Jun 19, 2011, 11:51 AM IST

New Delhi: Religious conversion of a
woman cannot be a reason for disqualifying her custodial
rights over a child from a previous marriage, a Delhi court
has ruled.

The court gave the ruling while denying the
custodial rights claim of a child`s grandfather who took the
plea that since his widowed daughter-in-law had embraced
Islam, she was not entitled to the child`s custody.

"The mere fact that she (woman) has married a Muslim
is not by itself a reason to take away the child from the
mother," Guardian judge Gautam Manan said.

"In the facts of the case where the child is getting
congenial, comfortable and a happy home, the conversion of
woman to Muslim religion cannot be a disqualification to be a
guardian," the court said.

Sangam Vihar resident Ram Kumar Maurya had filed a
petition in the court, seeking custody of his 14-year-old
grandson from the child`s mother, who after the death of his
son had re-married a Muslim.

Savitri Devi, a resident of South Delhi, had married
Maurya`s son Santram in 1993 and after he allegedly committed
suicide, she re-married Moinu Haque in 2001.

Since then the child is residing with her mother and
stepfather.

Maurya, 50, said Savitri converted to Islam for
marrying Haque, hence the child born to a Hindu father cannot
be permitted to live in a Muslim home, apprehending that child
too would be converted to Islam.

"This court is of the view that the respondents
(Savitri and Haque) are taking good care of the minor child
and is giving him good education.

"Keeping in mind the paramount interest and welfare of
the child, the prayer of petitioner (grandfather) for grant
of permanent custody cannot be allowed," the guardian judge
said.

The court added that law also recognises guardianship
of the mother in the absence of the father and when the mother
is there she has to be appointed as the guardian.

It also denied visitation rights to Maurya to meet the
child and said that even the boy has refused to recognise his
grandfather.

The judge noted that Maurya has failed to prove that
the child is not getting proper care and education while
residing with his mother.

"On the other hand, it has come in evidence that
Savitri and Haque are giving good education to the child. He
is pursuing his studies very well," the judge said.

PTI