Lahore: A Pakistani court has directed a Canadian couple of Indian and Pakistani origin, who are not "legitimately married", to amicably settle a custody battle over their minor son.
The Lahore High Court issued the order yesterday while hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by the boy`s mother Roshni Desai, a Canadian national of Indian-origin. She had sought the recovery of her son, Azan Sohail Niazi, from his father Jahanzeb Niazi of Sialkot district in Punjab province. Niazi too is a Canadian national.
Justice Asad Munir temporarily handed over the boy to Desai and directed the parents to reach some agreement by the next hearing.
Desai, through her counsel Aftab Ahmad Bajwa, said she gave birth to her son on July 10, 2007 in Canada. The couple separated in November 2010 and she moved to Montreal, Canada, with the child.
She said Niazi initially had visitation rights but he wanted custody of the boy. He started mediation through negotiation with her and was given access to the boy once a week.
Desai said on March 07 this year, Niazi took Azan away. She tried to contact him but he did not respond.
After repeated attempts, she established contact with Niazi, who promised the boy would be handed over to her soon. She said on March 09, she received a phone call from a police detective who informed her that Niazi had flown from Canada to Pakistan with the boy via Toronto airport.
Niazi used the Pakistani passport of his son. Following this, Desai contacted the Pakistani consulate and filed a petition in the Canadian Superior Court (Family Division) in Montreal. Desai obtained an order from the court which directed Niazi to hand over the boy to her by March 15.
The court also granted her legal custody of the boy.
Desai said she also approached the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which issued warrants for Niazi on a charge of abduction.
She pleaded that Niazi had no right to custody of the boy according to Canadian laws and Muslim family laws of Pakistan because there was no legal marriage between them.
Desai said she was a Canadian national and the minor too possessed Canadian nationality and Niazi had not legally obtained Pakistani citizenship for their son. The boy is a citizen of Canada and cannot live in Pakistan according to an order of the Canadian Superior Court.
Earlier, Pakistani police produced Niazi and Azan in the court of Justice Asad Munir, who allowed Desai to meet her son in the courtroom.
During the hearing, Munir observed that it was difficult under Pakistani laws to determine the custody of the boy as his parents were not legally married.
The judge asked Niazi: "Do you think that Pakistani culture will accept this child whereas in Canada he can lead a better life?" The judge said it was a very sensitive matter and should be amicably resolved.
The judge directed Desai to surrender her passport to the court till the case is settled.
A representative from the Canadian consulate also attended proceedings.