Habeas corpus plea: HC grants man custody of minor son

The bench held that in the UK, the respondent (woman) would have to single-handedly care for her son and her daughter, which may be difficult in view of the demands of her career.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has granted custody of a minor to his father, while disposing of a habeas corpus plea filed by the latter seeking custody of his son.

The petitioner, through his counsel, advocate Anil Malhotra, had sought to get his 10-year-old daughter and two-year-old son released from the “illegal custody” of his wife and her family.

According to the petitioner, their marriage was solemnized in November 2010. Prior to the marriage, the petitioner was working in Singapore. After marriage, the couple stayed at Singapore upto June 2011. The petitioner shifted to the UK in June 2011. When their daughter was born in September 2011, the couple moved to the UK alongwith their daughter. The petitioner obtained British PR in 2016 and British Citizenship in December 2017. Their son was born in February 2019. In June, the family returned to India. However, due to marital dispute, the woman moved back to the UK with her daughter and son. The woman filed a case in the UK against her husband (petitioner), where a court passed an order that she will make the children available to spend time with the petitioner (father) by way of video and/or telephone calls.

The petitioner however moved a habeas corpus plea in Punjab and Haryana High Court, during which his minor son was found to be in Haryana, living with the woman’s family members. The woman came back to India when the petitioner was abroad, but later moved back to the UK with her daughter, leaving her son in custody of her parents. Now she is in the UK and unable to return as her passport and travel documents have been seized. When she would be able to return is not clear at present, and she has also filed a divorce petition in the UK.

The bench of Justice Harinder Singh Sidhu, after hearing the matter, held: “Petitioner is the natural guardian of his minor child. But for some bald allegations made against him, there is no reason to believe that he would not conduct himself as a good and caring father.”

The bench held that in the UK, the respondent (woman) would have to single-handedly care for her son and her daughter, which may be difficult in view of the demands of her career. In India, apart from his father, the son can enjoy the care, love and affection of his grandparents and other members of the family both on the paternal and maternal side.

The bench thus directed that the best interest of their minor son would be served if his custody is handed over to the petitioner.

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