Supreme Court: Child cannot be 'tossed like shuttlecock'


A child is not a shuttlecock to be tossed between the father and mother, the Supreme Court observed on Friday.

A Bench of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha and Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton Nariman made this observation while hearing the case of custody of a four-year-old girl child, who, according to an order passed by the Madras High Court, had been asked to stay with the mother, G. Renukadevi, for four days, and with the father, K.S.M. Karthikeya, for three days.

The Supreme Court directed the father to bring the child to the court on July 21 and asked the mother to be present for the hearing.

Referring to the order passed by the High Court on a habeas corpus petition filed by the mother, the CJI said, “This order is something which shocks the conscience of this court. We are sorry that the High Court has treated the child as a chattel, which is impermissible and unacceptable. There is no justification for the High Court to pass such an order. This is not the way a girl child should have been treated. The court has played the child like a shuttlecock between the father and the mother.”

Pointing out that the welfare of the child should be of paramount concern in such matters, the CJI said, “The child can’t be put to agony and pain like this. We are not satisfied with the arrangement. This should be corrected and the child should remain with the mother.”

Earlier, senior counsel Nalini Chidambaram and counsel V. Balaji, appearing for Ms. Renukadevi, submitted that the father took away the child from the mother in April this year. On a habeas corpus petition, the High Court, instead of entrusting the child’s custody to the mother, said the child should remain with the mother for four days and the father for three days.

Senior counsel Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for Mr. Karthikeya, refuted the allegations and said the father had already put the child in school and was concerned about her welfare while the mother had no means to protect the child. The mother could be given visitation rights, he said.

With a view to finding a solution, the Bench appointed counsel Madhavi Divan and V. Mohana to mediate between the parties and to talk to the child to know whether she would go with the father or the mother. The Bench asked the father, having the custody of the child since the High Court order, to bring her to the court on July 21 to facilitate the mediation and adjourned the proceedings till then.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 6:09:22 PM |

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