‘Judges’ conduct should not give rise to doubt in minds of litigants’

The Delhi High Court has quashed a decision of a family court here concerning the custody of a minor child after the estranged wife protested that the family court judge shared his mobile number with both parties and even met the father alone in his chamber.

“This court also considers that it was not advisable for the family court judge to have shared his personal mobile number with the parties,” Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma observed, adding, “It is a settled proposition that justice must not only be done but must also appear to have been done”.

Apprehension of bias

The High Court noted that the conduct of the judge of sharing his personal mobile number with both the parties and admittedly having met one of the party in the chamber has “unnecessarily given a cause of reasonable apprehension of bias”.

“The judges have to remind themselves time and again that each and every conduct is observed and noted by the litigants and therefore, knowingly or unknowingly they may not act in any manner which gives rise to even slightest of doubt in the minds of the litigants and lawyers,” the HC said.

After setting aside the family court’s orders on the aspect of visitation rights of the father, the High Court asked the family court’s principal judge concerned to keep the matter with himself/herself and decide the same in accordance with the law.

Custody of child

The mother, had in her plea, challenged the family court judge’s order predominantly on the ground that it focused solely on the rights of the father and his family, ignoring the comforts of the minor child.

The mother said that the child has lived alone with her since she was 18 months old and is heavily dependent on her mother and has never been separated from her. She had contested the family court’s order granting overnight visitation or vacation rights given to the father.

The father, on the other hand, submitted that he has been the primary caregiver and has co-parented the daughter since her birth being a hands-on father. The father said he has been actively involved in every minute of the daughter’s life – changing diapers, feeding, playing, reading books, bathing, etc.

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2022 5:36:32 pm |