Recently, the Telangana High Court remarked that a person could not be a guest in their child’s life’. The Court further remarked that if visitation right is granted for only a limited period, the child may not get enough time to become comfortable with the parent, and therefore overnight custody should be encouraged.
The Court also observed that spending time just a couple of hours with a parent in a park or a theatre under the supervision of a relative or a parent will not be beneficial for a child and the child will not be comfortable and will also be under psychological pressure.
Hon’ble Justice T Amarnath Goud made the aforementioned remarks in a contempt case which was filed against violation of custody order passed by a Family Court.
Background of the Case:
In the instant case, the estranged couple had a child, and as they were no longer in a marital relationship, they were fighting over the custody of the child.
On 13.12.2019, the Family Court made the following directions:-
- From 4:00 PM Sunday till Friday mornings, the father will get custody of the child.
- The mother will pick the child from school on Fridays and will pass the custody of the child to father on Sunday at 4 Pm.
The arrangement mentioned above shall be in force for the first three weeks of the month, and for the last week, the father will get custody of the child.
- For all vacations, both the parents will get equal custody of the child.
- If a mutual agreement is reached, then both the parents can take the child to a place of his choice during a vacation or other day.
The Court clarified that this arrangement was made as the child was away from his father for quite long. It was further clarified that the arrangement was until the end of summer vacations, and after that, the parties can approach the Family Court to modify the order.
Grievances of the Parties:
The father of the child approached the Telangana High Court and submitted that the respondent had violated the order of the Family Court and he also stated that the respondent took the child to the Nilofer hospital at midnight, had the child’s private parts tested for Covid-19 and also took inappropriate photos of the child.
As per the petition, the respondent had alleged that the petitioner was committing immoral acts on the child, and despite police complaints, no action was taken.
Arguments raised before the Court:
Counsel for the petitioner submitted that the respondent had given a cell phone to the child and taught him how to send text messages to implicate the petitioner falsely.
On the other hand, the respondent stated that she had refused to give custody of the child to the petitioner(father) as she was fearful that he would commit homosexual acts on the child.
Observations made by the Court:
After examining the movements and conduct of the child, the COurt observed that the child was not fearful of his father and the Court also disagreed with the wife’s assertion that her ex-husband’s actions will result in the child contracting Covid-19.
The Court further observed that the respondent was giving a contradictory statement and opined that a parent could not be a guest in the life of the child and a parent should be provided ample time to bond with the child.
Order of the Court:
The order held that the respondent was guilty of contempt of Court, but as the respondent tendered an unconditional apology, the Court took a lenient stand against her.
Following directions were issued by the Court:-
- The parents shall not use the child as a pawn to settle personal scores.
- A mobile phone will not be provided to the child, and the child will only use the mobile phone under parental supervision.
- During vacation days, both the parents will get equal custody of the child, and if the mother wants to take the child on a trip, then the father will bear all the expenses.
- Both the parents were prohibited from taking obscene pictures of the child or any audio recording.
- All existing, CDs, videos and photos shall be destroyed.