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Child's welfare supreme in matter of custody: Court

A sessions court here has allowed a man to meet his minor daughter, who is living separately with her mother, saying that "the issue of custody of the child is not a matter of right of the parents but that of welfare of the child."



New Delhi: A sessions court here has allowed a man to meet his minor daughter, who is living separately with her mother, saying that "the issue of custody of the child is not a matter of right of the parents but that of welfare of the child."

Additional Sessions Judge Girish Kathpalia set aside a magisterial court's order in a domestic violence case filed by the man's wife whereby he and his family members were restrained from contacting his child.

"Prima facie excluding father from interaction with child would not be in the welfare of child... The issue of custody of child is not a matter of right of the parents but a matter of welfare of the child," the judge said.

The sessions court was hearing an appeal filed by the man against a trial court's order that had restrained him and his family members from contacting his daughter.

The man, in his appeal, said that the magisterial court did not follow appropriate procedure to restrain him and his family members as it had only spoken to the girl, who then expressed desire to stay with her mother.

While allowing the man's appeal to meet the child, the ASJ said, "Age of adolescence is a very delicate stage in building the personality of the child", adding that where a child is deprived of company of either of the parents, it leads to a severe dent in the personality of the kid.

"It is the duty of the court to ensure the best possible protection of welfare of the child. Therefore, by restraining either of the parents from contacting the child, it is not the parents who are being deprived, it is the child who is being deprived," the court further said.

Earlier, the magisterial court had passed an exparte interim order restraining the man and his family members from disturbing the custody of the girl and also restrained them from contacting her and her mother in any manner without specific permission of the court.

While allowing the man to meet his daughter, the ASJ also took note of a bunch of photographs, produced by the father in support of his contention that his wife and daughter were happily living with him till recently.

"By restraining appellants (man and his family members) from even contacting the present respondent no 1 (girl), it is the present respondent no 1 who would be prejudicially affected," the judge said.

The judge, however, said that he was not dealing with the issue of permanent custody of the child and his order should not be a ground to deprive the woman her custody of her daughter.

"Presently, the only issue being looked into by this court is the correctness of the view of the Magistrate in depriving the present respondent no.1 (girl) of interaction with her father...," the ASJ said, while noting the woman's submission that she would withdraw the domestic violence case from magisterial court and file a fresh one, if needed.

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