In most of the petty egoistic fights between married couple, children are used as pawns, says High Court

Makes the observations while dealing with a case of twin children, born and brought up in the United States for nearly 13 years, having been brought to India by their mother following a dispute with her husband 

January 04, 2023 12:23 am | Updated 12:23 am IST - CHENNAI

“Alas, gone are the days when children used to enjoy their childhood. They are now helplessly made to witness the fight between their father and mother because of petty egos and it is painful to notice that in most of those fights, it is the children who are used as pawns,” the Madras High Court said on Tuesday.

Second Division Bench of Justices P.N. Prakash and N. Anand Venkatesh expressed their anguish while dealing with a case of two children, born and brought up in the U.S. for 13 years, having been brought to India by their mother following a dispute with her husband and made to attend online classes from here.

The judges pointed out that the couple had got married in April 1999 and left for Virginia within 10 days of their marriage. They both acquired the U.S. citizenship and their twin children, born in April 2008, became American citizens by birth. The children were gold medalists in science olympiad and one of them qualified for junior olympics in swimming. Things were going well till December 2020 when their mother brought them to India and refused to return due to an estranged relationship with her husband, who filed a case before the Circuit Court of Fairfox County and obtained an order to take custody of the children pending adjudication of the divorce proceedings.

However, when the children were not handed over to him despite the court orders, he filed the present habeas corpus petition before the Madras High Court seeking a direction to the Greater Chennai Commissioner of Police to secure his minor sons from the custody of their mother and her parents, and hand them over to him.

Senior Counsel G. Rajagopalan, assisted by advocate Sunitha Kumari, represented the petitioner. After an interaction with the twins, the judges found that the children were completely under the control of their mother and were willing to give up all the comforts they enjoyed in the U.S. and continue attending classes online.

“In matters of this nature, the court does not decide based on what the children say since they are in the midst of a huge turmoil in their life. A duty is cast upon this court to decide based on best interest of the children,” Justice Venkatesh wrote, before holding that it would be better for the children to return to the U.S.

The judges pointed out that the children had to attend online classes during midnight hours due to the time difference between India and the U.S., and were able to interact with the teachers only for four days a week. Apart from that, all other extra curricular activities in which they had been participating in the U.S. had come to a grinding halt.

“The children are now living in an environment, which is alien to them, since the best part of their lives, for nearly 13 years, was spent only in the U.S. In our considered view, the best interest of the children can be ensured only if they return to their native country viz., the U.S.,” the Division Bench said.

It went on to state: “The children, who are naturalised American citizens, were brought up in the social and cultural value milieu of the U.S. and they are accustomed to the lifestyle, language, customs, rules and regulations of their native country and they will have their better avenues and prospects only if they return. The children have not developed roots in India and hence, no harm will be caused to them if they return to the U.S.” The judges directed the children’s mother to take them to the U.S., hand them over to their father within eight weeks, and work out her legal remedies before the courts in that country.

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