SC Allows Interim Custody Of Minor Children To Maternal Grandparents, Upholds Welfare Of Minor Is The Only Paramount Consideration
26 Oct 2023 6:14 PM GMT
The Supreme Court has recently addressed the custody of two minor children in a Special Leave to Appeal. The case, arising from an impugned order of the High Court of Punjab & Haryana, Chandigarh, has been keenly watched for its implications on child custody disputes.
While granting the custody of the children to the maternal grandparents, a bench comprising Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Pankaj Mithal observed “the issue of custody of minor children cannot be decided on the basis of rights claimed by the rival parties and the only paramount consideration is the welfare of the children”.
Roshan Lal and another petitioner, the maternal grandparents of the two minor children, were pitted against Gautam Khanna, the father of the children. The mother of the children had passed away, and the dispute revolved around the custody of the minors. The High Court of Punjab & Haryana at Chandigarh had directed the custody to be handed over to the father, Gautam Khanna, by an order dated May 16, 2022.
The dispute revolved around the custody of two minor children, currently aged 7 and 5. The petitioners claimed custody since November 2021 based on an undertaking provided by the first petitioner. However, the Court emphasized that the primary consideration in such cases should be the welfare of the children.
Taking into account the tender age of the children and their continuous stay with the petitioners since November 2021, the Court deemed it appropriate to let the competent Family Court decide the issue of custody. The Court referred to an interim order passed by the Family Court at Agra on July 18, 2023, granting access to the father, Gautam Khanna, for physical meetings and video calls with the children.
The Supreme Court directed that the impugned order for custody would not be implemented until the final disposal of the application for interim custody pending before the Family Court. The custody issue would be governed by the interim order that the Family Court may pass in the pending Custody Petition.
The Court emphasized the paramount principle that the welfare of the minor children should be the primary consideration in deciding custody matters. It urged the petitioners to encourage a good relationship between the children and their father, Gautam Khanna.
Additionally, the Supreme Court instructed the Family Court to prioritize the disposal of the pending interim application and expected it to be decided within a maximum of two months from the date of the judgment.
The Court also allowed any necessary modifications to the interim arrangements made in the judgment and permitted parties to approach the Family Court with appropriate applications if required. The court held that in the interim the custody of the children will be with the Maternal Grandparents till the trial is concluded.
Case Title: ROSHAN LAL & ANR. VERSUS GAUTAM KHANNA & ORS.
Counsel for Petitioner: Ms. Pinky Anand, Sr. Adv, Ms. Kirti Dua, Adv, Ms. Saudamini Sharma, Adv, Mr. Anshul Gupta, Adv, Ms. Pratibha Hooda,Adv, Ms. Shubhangi Tiwari, Adv, Mr. Shantanu Raj,Adv, Mr. Rajesh Kumar, Adv, Mr. Gaurav Goel, AOR
Counsel for Respondent: Mr. Keane Sardinha, Sr. Adv, Mr. Vibhuti Sushant Gupta, Adv, Ms. Aparna Gupta, Adv, Ms. Priya Sirohi, Adv, Mr. Narender Kumar Verma, AOR