Kerala High Court Orders Custody of Autistic Child to Mother

Kerala high court autism child law insider

LI Network

Published on: 24 July 2023 at 11:40 IST

Kerala High Court has resolved a Writ Petition by granting custody of an autistic ward to her mother. The petition sought directions to the District Administration (DA) and the Grama Panchayat (GP) to present the petitioner’s daughter before the Court and entrust her custody to the petitioner.

The Court’s decision was based on the provisions of the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation, and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999.

The Act ensures that the rights of parents with disabled children to care for their dependent offspring remain unaffected unless they are disqualified for any specific reason.

A Division Bench, presided by Justice P.B. Suresh Kumar and Justice C.S. Sudha, took into consideration that the petitioner is the mother of the ward in question.

It emphasized that a mother’s role in caring for her child, particularly one with disabilities, is unparalleled and cannot be replaced by anyone else. Therefore, the Act does not hinder the rights of parents to care for their disabled children, provided they are not disqualified under the Act’s provisions.

The petitioner, represented by Advocate R. Krishna Raj, is the mother of an autistic child. Her husband had been appointed as the ward’s guardian, with another individual designated as an alternative guardian. However, after the husband’s passing, the petitioner was unaware of the situation until the locals informed her.

The matter was subsequently brought to the attention of the Grama Panchayat and District Administration, who arranged for the ward’s stay in a particular institution under Respondent no. 5.

The petitioner approached Respondent no. 5, requesting custody of her ward. However, the institution insisted that she needed the concurrence of the Grama Panchayat and District Administration, which was denied.

The Court exercised its authority as ‘parens patriae’ to ensure justice in this exceptional case.

It clarified that such power is wielded with limitations and only in exceptional circumstances.

In this instance, the Court recognized the need to protect the interests of an individual without disabilities (the petitioner) in caring for her autistic daughter, who would otherwise be dependent on others for her well-being.

The Court disposed of the Petition and directed the District Administration to hand over custody of the autistic ward to the petitioner, thereby ensuring that the mother can provide her child with the care and support she rightfully deserves.

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