Pak High Commission may decide custody of Pakistani child: HC

Pak High Commission may decide custody of Pakistani child: HC

The Delhi High Court today disposed of a petition over the custody issue of a minor Pakistani girl whose paternal aunt has moved a plea here for custody of the child staying with her maternal uncle.

A bench of justices Reva Khetrapal and S P Garg said the girl's deceased's parents and her maternal uncle are Pakistani nationals and the Pakistan High Commission and courts in Pakistan are the competent authority to decide the issue.

The court further said "the Pakistan High Commission was asked to come but they did not come. We have even sought its assistance for resolving of the issue but they did not respond.

"It is for the Pakistan High Commission to look into the matter. However, none appeared for the Pakistan High Commission," the court said, adding the paternal aunt can approach the Pakistani High Commission and in case they do not hear her, then she can move to Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for any other remedy.

The court disposed of the plea observing that the status report filed by Delhi Police and state of Jammu and Kashmir shows that all the parties are Pakistani nationals and their visa expire on September 30.

The child had lost her mother and step father in June this year in an accident on her way to Srinagar from Delhi, after which the paternal aunt, an advocate in Lahore, was informed about the mishap.

The aunt, Shazia Naz, thereafter, filed a habeas corpus plea saying she was in touch with her niece till July 17 after which whereabouts of the child were unknown, and seeking that the girl be handed over to her.

The situation, however, took a new turn after the child's maternal uncle, also a Pakistani national, appeared before the court and had submitted that he and his wife have custody of the four-year-old girl.

On the other hand, the counsel for Naz had said her client be given custody of the child or in the alternative the girl be sent back to Pakistan as she belongs there.

The bench had refused to pass any such orders and sought the assistance of the Pakistan High Commission to ascertain whether the girl is a national of that country and whether her maternal uncle, John Barkat, resides there, as Naz contended that he resides in Japan, even though he is a Pakistani national.

The court had also directed Delhi Police to verify the passport and present residential address of John Barkat as the child's visa is about to expire.

Meanwhile, Barkat today told the court that the girl is not well due to injuries suffered in the accident, so he cannot bring the child to Delhi from Srinagar.

He further told the court that the girl will not travel to Pakistan till she gets well and their visa extension is under consideration of the Foreigner Regional Registration Offices, so the visa extension is not an issue.

Earlier, Delhi Police had in their status report said the child, her mother Shabnam Barkat and the woman's second husband Shabir Ahmed met with an accident on June 14 on Srinagar-Jammu highway near Awantipora in Anantnag district of South Kashmir.

While Ahmed died on the spot, Shabnam succumbed to her injuries in the last week of June. The child, who had suffered serious injuries, is currently staying with a relative of Shabir, the report had said. The girl and her mother had entered India through Wagah border on June 13 on a business visa.