Chandigarh, July 7
In a landmark judgment in child custody cases, the High Court of Punjab and Haryana made it clear that foreign citizenship can be considered important from an adult’s perspective. However, prospects for future development alone cannot be seen as the sole criterion for determining the best interests of a minor.
- European citizenship/passport can be considered valuable from the point of view of an adult adult
- Future growth prospects alone cannot be considered the only parameters that would be in a child’s best interests
The decision was made on a habeas corpus petition filed by a mother. She requested custody of the child on the grounds that he was an Italian citizen. Judge Vinod S Bhardwaj held that there was no prima facie evidence as to why giving custody to the applicant mother was in the best interests of the child.
Judge Bhardwaj observed that the child was allegedly removed from the mother’s custody in March 2018. More than four years had passed before the petition was filed by the petitioning mother. The only ground given was that the child was an Italian citizen. However, this may not in itself be in the best interests of the child. Uprooting the child from the country to which he belonged and which he had adopted would in itself have a serious impact on his psychology and his well-being.
Judge Bhardwaj said: “European citizenship/passport can be considered valuable from the point of view of an adult adult. However, said criterion of financial security or prospects for future growth cannot in itself be concluded to be the only parameters that would be in the best interests of a child. Justice Bhardwaj added that emotional, psychological and mental strength, as well as family and social support, were equally essential to the healthy development and growth of a child.
Dismissing the plea, Judge Bhardwaj added that custody of the minor child was with his father, who was the natural guardian under the Hindu Guardians and Wards Act 1956. As such, custody with the father could not be considered illegal.
Before parting with the case, Justice Bhardwaj observed: “Constitutional courts should take the necessary precautions to ensure the supremacy of the applicable law and the procedure and remedies prescribed by said law, instead of resorting to circumvention. legislative provisions and remedies without compelling necessity or without the existence of any circumstance which would satisfy the judicial conscience that the ends of justice can be secured, but only by the exercise of extraordinary judicial jurisdiction”.