You Have Eroded Faith That People Will Come Back After Being Allowed to Travel Abroad: SC Reprimands Contemnor

The Supreme Court on Wednesday told a man, a US resident since 2004 who has been held guilty of civil contempt for his failure to bring back his child to India, he has “eroded the faith” of the court that people will come back after being allowed to travel abroad.

A bench of Justices S K Kaul and A S Oka, which reserved its verdict on the issue of sentence, said it does not have the faith in the man because of his conduct.

In its January 16 order convicting him of civil contempt, the top court had observed the contempt petition filed by the woman, who he married in 2007, was an outcome of an unfortunate matrimonial dispute and, as a result of the “breaches committed” by the man, she has been deprived of the custody of her 12-year-old son which she is entitled to in terms of the May 11, 2022 order.

While hearing the arguments on Wednesday on the aspect of sentence, the bench told the lawyer appearing for the man, “Look at the scenario which you (man) have created…. There is series of events which has eroded the faith in your client”.

It observed the man continued to abstain from court proceedings in India and is “incorrigibly lying”.

“You (man) have caused immense damage to the faith which we have that people will come back,” the bench said, adding, “We will be very circumspect now in allowing someone to go abroad.”

The counsel appearing for the woman argued that the man has manipulated and deliberately misled the apex court which had allowed him to take the child to the US.

“What the man has done has brought down the majesty of this court…,” the counsel asserted.

The lawyer representing the man urged the bench to show leniency towards the accused.

“Arguments concluded on the issue of sentence. Judgement reserved,” the bench said.

The apex court had, in its order passed in January, noted that as per the terms of settlement recorded earlier, the child, who was in sixth standard at that time, shall continue to live in Ajmer and complete his education up to 10th standard and thereafter, he shall be shifted to the US where the father was residing.

It was also agreed that until the child completes his education up to 10th standard, he would visit Canada and the US with his father every year from June 1 to June 30.

The bench noted in its January order that the man came to Ajmer on June 7 last year and took his son with him to Canada, where the man’s mother and sister were residing, but he failed to bring him back to India.

“Therefore, we have no manner of doubt that there is wilful disobedience on the part of the respondent (man) of the direction to bring back the child to India within one month,” it said.

The apex court had noted that according to the case of the woman, after the birth of their child, at the instance of the man, both she and her son were sent to Canada.

The woman said in July 2013, she along with her son were thrown out of the house which compelled her to come to India in August 2013.

The top court had noted that the man adopted a remedy before the Canadian court for the custody of his son and an ex-parte order granting sole custody to him was passed.

It also noted that the Canadian court had issued directions to various agencies and INTERPOL to enforce the order and even a warrant was ordered to be issued against the woman.

The woman then filed a petition seeking the child’s appearance before the Rajasthan High Court.

Later, the matter came to the apex court, and on May 11 last year, the terms of the settlement, signed by both parties and notarised, were placed on record.

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