Allahabad High Court Upholds Justice over Stringent Legalities in Custody Battle Favoring Woman

Jan31,2024 #Allahabad HC #Custody #Justice
allahabad high court law insider

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Published on: January 31, 2024 at 11:12 IST

In a noteworthy decision, the Allahabad High Court has intervened in a custody dispute, emphasizing that the pursuit of justice should not be thwarted by rigid legalities.

The Court has awarded custody of a nine-year-old girl to a woman who, as per the court’s observation, may have been separated from the child due to having four children of her own.

Justices Saumitra Dayal Singh and Manjive Shukle, constituting a division bench, issued this order on Monday, challenging the notion that adopting or fostering a child should be stigmatized.

The case stemmed from a writ petition filed by Meena against a December 13, 2022, ruling by the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) in Fatehgarh, Farrukhabad, which had stripped her of the child’s custody.

The Court’s order on Monday highlighted that the petitioner’s adoption application should be considered in accordance with the law. Simultaneously, the Court asserted that its observations were tailored to the unique circumstances of the case, emphasizing that justice should prevail over legal formalities.

The background of the case reveals that Meena received the child on November 28, 2014, from a third gender person named Arjun alias Anjali, just a few days after the child’s birth. Meena, who already has four grown-up children, cared for the child without objection from authorities or third parties until October 11, 2021.

However, on that date, Meena claims that Arjun alias Anjali abducted the child. Following Meena’s complaint, the child was rescued on November 21 of the same year and returned to Meena’s custody on December 22 after counseling.

Trouble arose on October 20, 2022, when the District Probation Officer submitted a report to the Agra district magistrate, leading to the child being taken away from Meena and placed in a government facility in Agra.

The Court criticized the District Probation Officer for mechanically relying on the fact that Meena had four children, deeming her possibly ineligible to adopt the child. The court questioned the deprivation of Meena’s right to raise another child under the law that, ironically, did not prevent her from giving birth to additional children.

While acknowledging the inability to undo the past suffering of the child, the court, in the best interest of the child, granted custody to Meena, contingent upon her application for adoption within one week.

The Court also directed the District Probation Officer to provide periodic reports on the child’s development, initially on a monthly basis for the first six months and subsequently as required by law.

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