Courts cannot assume the role of legal protector: SC

Apex court rejects woman's plea for custody of daughter as major girl entitled to make her choice

Courts cannot assume the role of legal protector: SC

The Supreme Court on Friday allowed a 19-year-old girl to live with her father in Kuwait to pursue her education, saying on attaining the age of majority she was entitled to make her choices.

The top court rejected her mother's plea for girl's custody as the Kerala-based woman claimed that her daughter's decision is not an informed one and she has been pressurised by her father. The woman also referred to certain emails sent by the daughter to her in 2016.

"The courts cannot, as long as the choice remains, assume the role of parens patriae (legal protector). The daughter is entitled to enjoy her freedom as the law permits and the court should not assume the role of a super guardian being moved by any kind of sentiment of the mother or the egotism of the father. We say so without any reservation," a three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said.

After interacting with the girl, present in the courtroom, the bench said as a major, she is entitled to exercise her choice and freedom and the court cannot get into the aspect whether she has been forced by the father or not.

The girl, for her part, told the court that she wanted to go to Kuwait to pursue her career. She said she was pursuing her graduation from IGNOU and was doing an internship with a firm in Kuwait. The girl also told the court that her date of birth is September 19, 1998.

"There may be ample reasons on her behalf to go back to her father in Kuwait, but we are not concerned with her reasons. What she has stated before the court, that alone matters and that is the heart of the reasoning for this court, which keeps all controversies at bay," the bench said.

The court, however, allowed the woman to have interim custody of her minor son as per the order issued by a family court, Thiruvananthapuram, during summer vacations. The court disposed of contempt petition filed by her.

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