Mumbai: Keeping in view the well-being of a child, the Bombay High Court has granted the custody of a minor boy not to his biological mother, but to his paternal uncle and aunt, who brought him up in the last seven years at their home in a joint family.
The custody of the child was granted recently by Justice Roshan Dalvi to his uncle and aunt on their petition saying that the minor had been staying with them since last seven years after his mother had voluntarily left him under their care.
The woman had handed over the custody of her son, Udit Sarawagi, seven days after he was born, to his uncle and aunt as her husband had passed away and she wanted to re-marry.
The mother of the boy had in her custody her elder son who suffered from a heart problem. However, she moved a court to seek the custody of her younger son who was staying with his uncle and aunt after his birth.
Seven-year-old Uday had not seen his mother and was even not aware about her. He considered his uncle and aunt to be his parents. However, with the permission of the High Court a counsellor informed him about his biological mother and facilitated their meet.
In order to decide the custody, the court interviewed the minor child, his biological mother and her second husband, as well as the child's uncle and aunt who had taken care of him since the last seven years.
The court noted that if the custody of the boy was given to his biological mother, then the minor would be completely uprooted from his present home and his surroundings.
"The counsellor's report shows that he is a happy child and well-settled in the family and has bonded with his siblings. It would be unfair and unjust to alter the present family situation of the child," observed the court.
The mother contended that her elder son was going to a school that was superior to the one in which Udit was studying. However, the court noted that the reports of the school did not show lack of good education.
The court also interviewed the present husband of the child's biological mother. "He is neither very anxious and welcoming to care for the child in his own home nor antagonistic towards him," the judge further noted.
The court opined that any order passed by it in this case must be only in the interest and welfare of the child. Hence the order should be such that would provide the child with the best of both the petitioners and respondent while leaving him in the present family setting and atmosphere.
The court appointed the uncle and aunt of the child as his guardians and ordered that Udit would remain with the petitioners as a member of their family during his minority and shall continue to receive the maintenance and education, which he is currently getting.
The court also allowed the biological mother to meet her son once in a week either at the residence of the petitioners (uncle and aunt) or in any public place such as a mall, temple, theatre, garden.
The judge further noted that she can take away her child for an outing to these public places after giving notice to his aunt or uncle over telephone or e-mail. However, it would be at the convenience of Udit so that his school studies are not disturbed and such visits may extend over a period of five hours at a time, Justice Dalvi noted.
In an alternative, the court also allowed the mother to take away her child to her home on any three Saturdays in a month from 9 a.M to 4 p.M. In such case, the mother has to ensure that the child is sent to sports class or swimming or academic class at least two hours during this period.
However, the court noted that the mother shall be responsible for the safety and security of the child during that period she keeps him in custody.
Disposing of the guardianship petition, the judge hoped that all the parties shall improve their behaviour towards the child and also between themselves in his presence so that he grows without any mental stress in the unique relationship he holds with the parties.