A Division Bench of the Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of a Hindu adoptive father, while disposing of a petition for custody filed by the Muslim child’s natural mother.
The petitioner, Ms. Shahnaz Begum had brought to the notice of the Court that her son, Akbar had gone missing in 2004. Soon after, she and her husband became aware of the fact that Akbar was living with one Aiku Lal, at Lucknow. They then approached Allahabad High Court, filing a habeas corpus petition for their son’s recovery.
The High Court had allowed the child to remain in custody of his adoptive father, in view of the fact that he had taken due care of Akbar ever since finding him as an abandoned child at Lucknow. Akbar was educated, and brought up as per Muslim traditions. The High Court further noticed that fact that Mr. Lal had remained unmarried for Akbar’s welfare. This order was challenged before the Supreme Court.
During the hearing before the Apex Court, Akbar had suggested that Ms. Begum and Mr. Lal reside together and take Akbar in joint custody. This suggestion was however, neither approved by the Court, nor by Ms. Begum.
Determining his age from the Matriculation certificate, the Court noted that Akbar would attain the age of 18 years in another two years, after which, it would be open to him to take a decision on whether he wishes to stay with his natural mother or his adoptive father. The Bench hence felt it appropriate not to alter the present arrangement. It however allowed Akbar to stay with his natural mother during his summer vacations every year.
Read the order here.