Welfare of child important in custody battle, rules SC

Welfare of child important in custody battle, rules SC

The Supreme Court has said that the welfare of the child is paramount in a custody battle as it is directly linked to nation-building.

The court allowed a woman to get custody of her eight-year-old daughter though the child wanted to live with the father.

The court relied upon the welfare principle, saying the growth and advancement of children with personal interest is “accompanied by a significant public interest, because of the crucial role they play in nation-building”.

“The present of the child links to the future of the nation, and while the children are the treasures of their parents, they are the assets who will be responsible for governing the nation,” a bench of Justices J Chelameswar and A K Sikri said, allowing a Kendriya Vidyalaya school teacher to get custody of her daughter from her army officer husband. The apex court did not agree with a report given by the child counsellor, saying she was in a very sensitive phase of mental and physical growth and it was in her best interest that the present arrangement is not disturbed as she has remained with the father since she was 21 months.

Citing the Parental Alienation Syndrome, the bench said the intensity of negative feelings of the father towards the mother would have an obvious effect on the psyche of the child.

The court said the primary need of the child is the love and care of its mother as it is supported by a vast body of psychological literature.

“No doubt, this presumption in favour of maternal custody as a sound child welfare policy is rebuttable and in a given case, it can be shown that the father is better suited to have the custody of the child. Such an assessment, however, can be only after a level-playing field is granted to both parents. That has not happened in the instant case so far”, the bench said.

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