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Ensuring Social and Psychological Contact: Karnataka High Court Stresses Sufficient Visitation Rights for Parents Losing Child’s Custody

Karnataka High Court

Mahesh d. Yatnalli v. State of Karnataka, R. Sujatha @ Saraswati & ors.

Bench- THE HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE ALOK ARADHE AND THE HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE ANANT RAMANATH HEGDE

W.P.H.C. NO.34 OF 2023

Decided On 23-05-2023

Facts of the case-

The petitioner Mahesh D. Yatnalli and the respondent, R. Sujatha, were married on 28.02.2011 and had a son together on 10.12.2011. Due to matrimonial disputes, they separated after 2014. The respondent initiated proceedings under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, seeking maintenance for herself and their son, which resulted in an order dated 22.02.2022. This order was challenged through a revision petition (RPFC No.104/2022) before the court.

During the course of the said proceeding, the petitioner and respondent reached an amicable settlement. According to the compromise, the respondent was appointed as the guardian of their son, and the petitioner, as the father, was granted visitation rights on weekends and custody of the child during Summer and Winter Vacations.

However, a dispute arose when the petitioner, on one of the weekends in January 2023, was denied access to his son. Furthermore, despite the commencement of the Summer Vacation on 25.03.2023, the custody of the child was not handed over to the petitioner as per the terms of the compromise. The petitioner attempted to contact the respondent through emails but received no response and was consistently denied access to his son.

Consequently, the petitioner filed a writ petition of Habeas Corpus on 19.04.2023, seeking the intervention of the court. The aforementioned facts form the basis of the present petition and require our consideration.

Relevant Provisions

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 Related to
Sec. 125 Order for maintenance of wives, children and parents.

 

 

 

Judgement

The court deemed the petition to be maintainable, relying on the precedent set in the case of Yashita Sahu vs. State of Rajasthan, wherein the Supreme Court established that a writ of Habeas Corpus is maintainable when a child is in the custody of one parent.

After considering the facts, the court acknowledged that the petitioner-father and respondent-wife had reached a compromise, granting the petitioner visitation rights and custody of their son during specified periods. It was observed that the petitioner had been denied access to his son during the Summer Vacation, as agreed upon in the compromise. Therefore, in light of the factual circumstances, the court held that the writ of Habeas Corpus was maintainable.

During the proceedings, the court interacted with the child and noted his affinity towards his grandmother. Consequently, the court emphasized the importance of maintaining a congenial atmosphere in the petitioner’s household during the child’s stay. The court further emphasized that both parents have an obligation to provide an environment conducive to the child’s development. It was deemed in the best interest of the child to have the parental care of both parents, even if not joint, then at least separate.

Based on these considerations, the court concluded that there was no justifiable reason for the respondent-wife to disregard the terms and conditions of the compromise.

JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY ABHAY SHUKLA

Click here to view judgment

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