A Karnataka High Court Bench of Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice Anant Ramanath Hegde has directed the Police to contact the employer of a woman who had failed to hand over custody of her minor child to her husband despite a judicial order. The Court has directed the employer to hold back her pay until the order is complied with.

Senior Advocate S Sreevatsa and Advocate N Gowtham Raghunath appeared for the petitioner. SPP II VS Hegde and Senior Advocate MT Nanaiah appeared for the respondents.

In this case, the father filed a habeas corpus petition aggrieved by the non-execution of the order passed by the Family Court. The Family Court had allowed his petition under Section 25 of the Guardians and Wards Act, and directed the mother to hand over their seven-year-old female child to him.

The High Court observed that the order appointing the husband as guardian of the minor daughter and directing the wife to hand over custody to the husband had attained finality.

Perusing the order passed in Rajeswari Chandrasekar Ganesh vs State of Tamil Nadu, the Court took the considered view that "it is evident that in child custody matters, when the child is in custody of one of the parents, a writ of habeas corpus is maintainable. Therefore, the contention urged on behalf of the wife that the writ of habeas corpus is not maintainable does not deserve acceptance."

The Court further noted that despite best efforts made by the police authorities, including the police authorities at Delhi, the wife is not traceable. It was further noted that the Court had issued several directions to secure the presence of the minor child, and also initiated civil and criminal contempt proceedings against the wife.

In light of the same, the Court held that the wife's conduct amounted to an abuse of the process of law and that she could not be permitted to continue with the custody of the daughter. Subsequently, the Court passed the following directions:

(i) The Commissioner of Police, Bangalore was directed to ensure that the concerned Station House Officer hands over the custody of the daughter to the petitioner within 24 hours from the date of receipt of a copy of the order.

(ii) The police was also directed to contact the employer of the wife to hold back all the benefits payable to her till custody of the daughter is handed over.

Cause Title: ABC v. XYZ

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