Delhi High Court Prioritizes Child’s Well-being Over Convicted Father’s Custody Plea

LI Network

Published on: 06 September 2023 at 16:46 IST

The Delhi High Court has rejected a plea from a father serving a life sentence for murder to gain custody of his 15-year-old daughter.

The court’s decision, which prioritizes the well-being of the child during her formative years, underscores the importance of her mother’s care and protection.

The court emphasized that the father had been practically estranged from his daughter since she was just one year old, making him a virtual stranger to her.

The ruling came in response to the man’s appeal challenging a family court’s decision to grant custody of the minor to his estranged wife, who has been caring for the child since she was one year old.

The court acknowledged that the appellant was serving a life sentence for the serious offenses of murder and evidence destruction under IPC sections 302 and 201, respectively. While he may currently be out on bail, his criminal history and conviction for such a heinous crime cast doubt on his ability to provide for the child’s best interests.

The bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna noted that the child, now 15 years old, is in a critical developmental stage where she requires her mother’s care and protection more than anyone else.

The court also rejected the notion that the appellant’s mother could adequately care for the child.

While permanent custody was rightfully denied to the man by the family court, the natural father was granted limited visitation rights, allowing him one hour of visitation per month in the interest of the minor’s welfare.

The couple had been married in February 2006, and their daughter was born in March 2007. However, the father was arrested in May 2008 in connection with a criminal case and remained in judicial custody until January 2015. During this period, the wife left their matrimonial home and sought a divorce.

The woman argued that the child’s safety would be compromised in the father’s custody, as he had previously threatened both her and their daughter.

Given his criminal conviction and life imprisonment sentence, she contended that it would not be in the best interest of the child to be placed under his care.

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