Children Aged 16 Yrs, Competent To Decide Their Inclination To Reside With Either Parent: Madhya Pradesh HC

In Jaya Chakravarti v. State of Madhya Pradesh and others (Writ Appeal No.1066 of 2021), the Madhya Pradesh High Court, Indore Bench, recently declined to grant child custody to the Appellant-mother, since the children wanted to live with their father.

Brief Facts Of The Case: The Appellant has twin 16-year-old boys with her spouse. After a marital dispute, the husband filed a Section 97 CrPC application for child custody. The SDM granted custody to respondent no. 4. The appellant/wife challenged the order before the High Court, which partially allowed the appeal and quashed the SDM’s order. It also told the husband not to force the children to live with him; they could live with their mother. The appellant stated that despite the Writ Court granting her petition and quashing the impugned decree, she did not get custody of her boys. She asked that the order be changed so that the spouse gives her custody of the children.

The spouse argued that no involvement was needed because the single bench of the Court granted the judgement after speaking with the children, who expressed a desire to live with their father. He argued the appeal should be dismissed. The Bench was dealing with a writ appeal by the Appellant against the Writ Court’s ruling, which quashed the Sub-Divisional Magistrate’s order providing custody of the children to the father (respondent no. 4), but did not specifically grant custody to her.

Judgement: The Court stated that when a higher authority sets aside an impugned order, the status quo before the impugned order is restored. The case involved no immovable or movable property or livestock. It involved two people who voiced their desires. Since the children opted to live with their father, the Writ Court did not deem it suitable to give her custody of them. The Court refused to overturn the Writ Court’s ruling, and the appeal was rejected.

The court said that while both are minors, 16 is not too young for a child to choose whether to live with one parent or the other. In the present case, this choice was exercised in favour of the father, so despite agreeing with the appellant/contentions petitioner’s about the legality of the impugned order, the learned Writ Court has not found it appropriate to hand over custody of the children to the appellant/petitioner/wife, which as a judgement was passed by Justice Subodh Abhyankar and Justice Satyendra Kumar Singh.



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