The Punjab and Haryana High Court while upholding the visitation rights to a man, observed that a mother or father may be morally bad in societal sense but may be good for the child.

The Court was deciding a case in which the father had invoked the jurisdiction under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution, seeking quashing or modification of an order for grant of appropriate visitation rights of the minor and also for the interim custody to the him and his parents.

A Single Bench of Justice Archana Puri said, “A man or a woman may be bad for someone in a contextual relationship, the same does not necessarily mean that the person is bad for his/her child. A mother or father, may be morally bad in the societal sense, but that parent may be good for the child. The so called morality is created by society, based on their own ethos and norms and should not necessarily reflect in a contextual relationship between the parent and child.”

Senior Advocate Kanwaljit Singh appeared for the petitioner while Advocate Abhishek Sharma appeared for the respondent.

In this case, initially, the father had filed a petition under Section 25 of the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 seeking custody of his minor daughter. Therein, an application for interim custody was disposed of vide an order wherein, it was held that no ground was made out for handing over the custody of the minor child to him, but however, visitation rights were granted to him. Feeling aggrieved by the order passed by the Court below for not handing over the custody of the minor child to the father and also granting only visitation rights, he had filed the revision petition before the High Court.

The High Court in the above context of the case noted, “In a custody tussle, the matter is to be decided, not on consideration of the legal rights of the parties, but on the sole and predominant criterion of what would be best to serve the interest and welfare of the child. The various provisions of the Guardians and Wards Act, makes it manifestly clear that the paramount consideration, is the welfare of the minor child and not the statutory rights of the parents. … What is ‘welfare of the child’ depends upon several factors. It has to be measured not only in terms of money and physical comfort, but also in view of the age of the child and the manner, in which, ‘needs’ can be fulfilled, more particularly, moral and ethical aspects of the shaping of the minor's personality.”

The Court said that the welfare of the child depends upon the facts and circumstances of each particular case and that the legal right or the financial affluence is not decisive, but the welfare of the minor is decisive for the claim of the custody.

“It is a matter of common knowledge that at this stage, the mother can be the best friend, guide and mentor for the growing daughter. Considering the same, the girl child, at this stage, requires the assistance of her mother, more than that of a father. Not that, the father is not having any love and affection for the minor, but however, considering the age of the child, she is bound to have more attachment with the mother, more particularly, when she is already residing with the mother and therefore, no further change in the arrangement, already existing, shall be beneficial to the child”, added the Court.

Furthermore, the Court said that it shall be appropriate, if the girl child is allowed to meet the petitioner, her father, twice a month and once in fortnight, the child may visit in the company of her mother or maternal grand-parents to some settled place like restaurant or park, to have interaction with the father, for a period of two hours, on a day decided by mutual consent and the arrangement for the said visit shall be made to operate between 10.00 am to 4.00 pm.

Accordingly, the High Court allowed the revision petition.

Cause Title- ABC v. XYZ (Neutral Citation: 2023:PHHC:154638)

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