In an order passed on 16th December, 2022, Rahul v/s Shalini (CR-2579-2022 (O&M), the Punjab High Court held that the petitioner-husbands’ parents or other family members cannot act as an alternative for parents of the minor child. The judgement was presided by Honourable Mrs. Justice Archana Puri.
FACTS OF THE CASE:
The petitioner-husband Rahul and the respondent-Shalini were married in the year 2018 and have been residing separately since the year 2020. The couple conceived a son from the marriage in the year 2020. The respondent-Shalini under the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 filed for the custody of the minor child and the petitioner was permitted of visitations. Upon this order, a petitioned was filed by the petitioner-husband challenging the custody to be with the respondent. Both the parties raised allegations of misconduct and bad behaviour. It was observed by the court that the petitioner-husband was employed in the private sector and had time restraints to look after a minor child. Upon this, the learned counsel representing the petitioner stated that the petitioner’s family members, specifically, the wife of the younger brother could look after the minor in the absence of the petitioner.
Under the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956, the welfare of the child holds paramount importance. The Act also states the father and mother to be the natural guardians of the minor. Further, the Act holds that the custody of a child below 5 years of age has to go to the mother. Therefore, in this particular case, the onus is on the petitioner-husband to prove the reason for contending against the custody filed by the respondent.
On account of the petitioner-husband’s private job and restraint of time, the court held that other family members, of either side, cannot take the position of the mother and father. Moreover, as the respondent resided with her parents at their residence, she was in a position to devote more time to the minor. The judgement was passed in favour of the respondent to keep the custody of the minor.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY ARYA THAKUR.