Woman entering into new relationship without securing divorce wouldn't deprive her of custody of minor child

Anmol Shivhare Vs State Of UP And 4 Ors

Allahabad HC

09/12/2020

Habeas Corpus Writ Petition No. - 61 of 2020

About/from the judgment:

The Allahabad High Court recently observed that the fact that the mother enters into a new relationship allegedly without obtaining divorce from her husband, may be something that the law and the society frown upon, but, this in itself, wouldn't deprive her of the custody of her minor child.

The Court observed that "depriving the minor of his mother's company, might have an adverse impact on his overall development. This, in-turn would derogate from the minor's welfare."

The matter before the Court

A habeas corpus writ petition was filed by Ram Kumar Gupta (Father) in the name of his son Anmol Shivhare, complaining he is in the unlawful custody of Sanyogita (the minor's mother and Ram Kumar Gupta's Wife).

Gupta (Father) prayed that the minor be ordered to be produced before the Court and that his custody be entrusted to him, relieving the minor from the mother's (Sanyogita) custody.

Ram Kumar Gupta (Father) and Sanyogita (Mother) were married according to Hindu rites on 8th December, 2009 at Kanpur Nagar and Anmol Shivhare (the minor in question) was born on 07th August 2015.

As alleged by Gupta (the Father of the minor in question) on 03rd October 2019, Sanyogita (the Mother of the minor in question) went away somewhere taking along the minor son in question, Anmol.

Gupta lodged a first information report on 04.10.2019 at Police Station Sector 37, Gurugram. It was registered as Case Crime No. 295 of 2019, under Section 346 I.P.C.

Sanyogita's statement was recorded under Section 161 Cr.P.C and thereafter under Section 164 Cr.P.C. wherein she said that she married one Balram Chaudhary and also produced a marriage certificate dated 22nd May 2018.

Gupta, however, alleged that Sanyogita's marriage to Balram is a nullity because it is a second marriage in the lifetime of her husband and due to this, she has lost her right to Anmol's custody.

The minor's custody with Sanyogita, in the home of a stranger, has been dubbed as unlawful by Gupta; while on the other hand, before the Court, Sanyogita alleged that Gupta has been an unkind father.

She also alleged that she was treated with cruelty by Gupta and that is why she walked out on him.

Court's Observations

Noting that the principle about the welfare of the child being of paramount consideration cannot be given a go by and considering the overall circumstances, the Court concluded,

"Considering the overall behaviour of the minor towards his parents, this Court feels that at this age, depriving the minor of his mother's company, might have an adverse impact on his overall development."

The Court further said that the minor, though above the age of five years, is still a child of tender years and that he may not be an infant, who needs to be weaned away from his mother, but he still needs the tender care that the mother alone can provide.

Importantly, the Court said,

"The fact that the mother has walked away from her husband's home without securing a divorce and entered into a new relationship with Balram Chaudhary, which she represents and ostensibly believes to be a second marriage, may be something that the law and the society frown upon, but, in itself, is something not so depraved or immoral as to deprive the mother of her special place in the minor's life."

Taking into account the way Sanyogita (the mother) detailed her circumstances in Balram's home, the Court found that the minor was "well adapted into his mother's new family."

In the opinion of this Court, Balram, Sanyogita and the two children, who are half-brothers, "are a family with reasonably good bonds, that can be trusted to secure the minor's welfare."

On the other hand, the Court noted that Gupta is engaged in earning his livelihood and back home "there may not be anyone, even half as able to take care of the minor at this young age as his natural mother."

"So far as the dominant and substantial part of the minor's custody and care are concerned, this Court is of opinion that these would be better secured in the mother's hands, in comparison to the father", remarked the Court.

Lastly, the Court also ensured visitation rights to the father bearing in mind the subtler aspects of human behaviour.

Sanyogita has been directed to take the minor to his father's home at Kanpur once in two months, on any Sunday of the month.

Read the Judgment

Knowledge and content of about almost all their respective descriptions are borrowed from law-related blogs and websites, we, therefore, wish to give proper credit to all the respective law-related blogs and websites like LiveLaw, Bar and Bench, LatestLaws, PathLegal, FirstLaw, Lawctopus, IndianKanoon, Manupatra, LegallyIndia etc.. Many of the judgments are also taken from them websites of Hon'ble Supreme Court and other respective Hon'ble High Courts!

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