Bombay HC hands over custody of child to aunt noting mother suffers from psychological disorders

The Bombay High Court handed over the custody of a child to his aunt while observing that the boy’s mother suffered “deep psychological issues” and the father was very aggressive.

A single bench of Justice R I Chagla said the court while considering such issues must weigh in the moral and ethical welfare of the child and his or her physical wellbeing.

The court passed the order on October 5 on a petition filed by the woman seeking to be appointed as the guardian of the child and for his custody to be handed over to her.

Justice Chagla in the order noted that he had interacted with the boy and had noticed that he was emotionally attached to the petitioner because he had been under her love and care since birth.

“The moral and ethical welfare of the child must also weigh with the Court as well as his/ her physical well-being,” the bench said.

The role of the Court in exercising its ‘parens patriae’ jurisdiction applied in the present case despite the petitioner not being a parent but an aunt of the child, Justice Chagla said.

“The biological mother has deep psychological issues and this was also noticed whilst the passing of this order in court as there was a huge commotion caused by her (biological mother), which disturbed the court proceedings. The respondent No 1 (biological father) is also very aggressive,” the court said.

“Having taken into consideration the welfare of the minor child whilst exercising ‘parens patriae’ jurisdiction, in my view, the welfare of the minor child will be best served by the petitioner and the petitioner is required to be declared the true and lawful guardian of the minor child,” it said.

The court, however, allowed the parents access to the minor child.

The woman, in her plea, claimed that when the child was born, her brother and his wife, who suffers psychological disorders, had agreed to hand over the baby’s custody to her. Accordingly, Wadia Hospital, where the child was born, issued the discharge card in the petitioner’s name.

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The woman, a widow with no children of her own, claimed she was in a better position financially to take care of the child’s welfare.

She further said whenever the child went to his parents’ house he fell ill and had to take medical treatment.

In March 2021, the child’s father lodged a complaint with the Bhoiwada police station in central Mumbai, alleging that the petitioner had forcibly abducted the child without their consent and had illegally detained him.

The woman, in her plea, said after the complaint was lodged, she handed over the child’s custody to the parents, but after two months, they asked her to take the child back claiming that his health had deteriorated.

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