Supreme Court clarifies on Child Custody laws


The Supreme Court on Friday made a severe remark on the verdict on a Child Custody case that a four year old girl child was to stay for four days with her mother and three days with her father in the week. The Bench which consisted of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha and Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton Nariman said that the child was not to be treated like a shuttlecock between the parents.

The observation was made while hearing the case for custody of the girl, the verdict for which had been passed by the Madras High Court. The child was to stay with the mother, G. Renukadevi, for four days, and with the father, K.S.M. Karthikeya, for three days.

The CJI, on the reference to the order which was passed by the High Court on a habeas corpus petition filed by the mother, said, “This order is something which shocks the conscience of this court. We are sorry that the High Court has treated the child as a chattel, which is impermissible and unacceptable. There is no justification for the High Court to pass such an order. This is not the way a girl child should have been treated. The court has played the child like a shuttlecock between the father and the mother.”

Making a decision, keeping the welfare of the child in mind, the CJI excerpted, “The child can’t be put to agony and pain like this. We are not satisfied with the arrangement. This should be corrected and the child should remain with the mother.”

It was brought to notice by senior counsel Nalini Chidambaram and counsel V. Balaji, who were appearing on behalf of Ms. Renukadevi, that the father had taken away the child from the mother in April this year. On a habeas corpus petition, the High Court, instead of entrusting the child’s custody to the mother, had ordered that the child should remain with the mother for four days and the father for three days.

Senior counsel Abhishek Singhvi, who argued on behalf of Mr. Karthikeya, countered the allegations made by the other party and brought to the notice of the court that the father had already put the child in school and was concerned about her welfare while the mother had no means to protect the child. Singhvi also said that the mother could be given visitation rights.

Wanting to find the solution, the Bench had appointed counsel Madhavi Divan and V. Mohana to mediate between the parties and to talk to the child. This was done so that the inclination of the child was also brought to notice. Since the child was with the father ever since the custody of the child on the orders of the High Court, the court ordered Karthikeya to bring her to the court on July 21 to facilitate the arbitration and deferred the proceedings till then.