Mr. Rebates

Friday, October 22, 2010

Money has no meaning in custody battles: SC

Nov 20, 2008

NEW DELHI: A husband's riches cannot be cited as logical reason to get custody of a child by contrasting it with the humble economic condition of the estranged wife, SC said on Wednesday while entrusting a teacher mother the task of bringing up a minor son.

The husband — Gaurav Nagpal — allegedly snatched his son almost a decade ago and since then played hide-and-seek with his wife and the courts to deny her custodial rights. This weighed heavily with a Bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and G S Singhvi in asking the husband to restore the child to the wife, Sumedha Nagpal. A husband may be taking best care of the child, but could still end up losing the custody battle once the 'welfare of the child' scale judicially tilts towards the mother, the court ruled.

"In determining the question as to who should be given custody of a minor child, the paramount consideration is the 'welfare of the child' and not rights of the parents under a statute," said Justice Pasayat, writing the judgment for the Bench.

"Simply because the father loves his children and is not shown to be otherwise undesirable does not necessarily lead to a conclusion that the welfare of the children would be better promoted by granting their custody to him," the Bench said, adding, "Children are not mere chattels nor are they toys for their parents."

The guardian court, in case of a dispute between the mother and father, was expected to strike a just and proper balance between the requirements of welfare of the minor children and the rights of their respective parents over them, it said. Contrasting his financial affluence to the humble conditions of his estranged wife, the husband had pleaded for custody saying that he was spending a good amount of money to provide the child with excellent education.

Agreeing with the husband that child's education was of paramount interest, SC said the father would do well to continue providing the educational expenses while the child remained in custody of the mother.

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