Tag Archives: Custody of Children

Statement of Child – In Custody of Complainant

It is no doubt true that the child has given statement implicating the petitioner. But the Court has to keep in mind, by that time the child was in the custody of the complainant for a considerable period of time. Therefore, whether the statement was an outcome of any tutoring, undue influence or independent, has to be examined at the time of trial. If ultimately prosecution succeeds, petitioner will be punished, if not, condition becomes irreversible for the petitioner. Chinappa B.K. v. State of Karnataka, Criminal Petition No. 488 of 2020 (Kar HC).

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Jurisdiction of State – Which has most intimate contact with the issues arising in the case

 The Hon’ble Apex Court in Surinder Kaur Sandhu v. Harbax Singh Sandhu, (1984) 3 SCC 698 was concerned with the custody of a child who was British citizen by birth whose parents had been settled in England after their marriage. The child was removed by the husband from the house and was brought to India. The wife obtained a judicial order from the UK court whereby the husband was directed to hand over the custody of the child to her. The said order was later confirmed by the court of England and thereafter the wife came to India and filed a writ petition in the High Court of Punjab and Haryana praying for custody and production of the child which came to be dismissed against which the wife appealed to the Apex Court. The Apex Court keeping in view the “welfare of the child”, “comity of courts” and “jurisdiction of the State which has most intimate contact with the issues arising in the case” held thus:

“We may add that the spouses had set up their matrimonial home in England where the wife was working as a clerk and the husband as a bus driver. The boy is a British citizen, having been born in England, and he holds a British passport. It cannot be controverted that, in these circumstances, the English Court had jurisdiction to decide the question of his custody. The modern theory of Conflict of Laws recognises and, in any event, prefers the jurisdiction of the State which has the most intimate contact with the issues arising in the case. Jurisdiction is not attracted by the operation or creation of fortuitous circumstances such as the circumstance as to where the child, whose custody is in issue, is brought or for the time being lodged. To allow the assumption of jurisdiction by another State in such circumstances will only result in encouraging forum-shopping. Ordinarily, jurisdiction must follow upon functional lines. That is to say, for example, that in matters relating to matrimony and custody, the law of that place must govern which has the closest concern with the well-being of the spouses and the welfare of the offspring of marriage. The spouses in this case had made England their home where this boy was born to them. The father cannot deprive the English Court of its jurisdiction to decide upon his custody by removing him to India, not in the normal movement of the matrimonial home but, by an act which was gravely detrimental to the peace of that home. The fact that the matrimonial home of the spouses was in England, establishes sufficient contacts or ties with that State in order to make it reasonable and just for the courts of that State to assume jurisdiction to enforce obligations which were incurred therein by the spouses. (See International Shoe Co. v. State of Washington  90 L Ed 95 : 326 US 310 (1945) , which was not a matrimonial case but which is regarded as the fountainhead of the subsequent developments of jurisdictional issues.) It is our duty and function to protect the wife against the burden of litigating in an inconvenient forum which she and her husband had left voluntarily in order to make their living in England, where they gave birth to this unfortunate boy.”  In  Elizabeth Dinshaw v. Arvand M. Dinshaw, (1987) 1 SCC 42, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that it is the duty of courts in all countries to see that a parent doing wrong by removing children out of the country does not gain any advantage by his or her wrongdoing and was guided by the factors such as the longer time spent by the child in the US in which the child was born and became US citizen and also the fact that the child has not taken roots in India and was still not accustomed and acclimatised to the conditions and environment obtaining in the place of his origin in the United States of America. The Court took note of the fact that the child’s presence in India is the result of an illegal act of abduction and the father who is guilty of the said act cannot claim any advantage by stating that he has already put the child in some school in Pune.  Lahari Sakhamuri v. Sobhan Kodali, (2019) 7 SCC 311.

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Anti-Suit Injunctions

Anti-suit injunctions are meant to restrain a party to a suit/proceeding from instituting or prosecuting a case in another court, including a foreign court. Simply put, an anti-suit injunction is a judicial order restraining one party from prosecuting a case in another court outside its jurisdiction. The principles governing grant of injunction are common to that of granting anti-suit injunction. The cases of injunction are basically governed by the doctrine of equity.

      It is a well settled law that the courts in India have power to issue anti-suit injunction to a party over whom it has personal jurisdiction, in an appropriate case. However, before passing the order of anti-suit injunction, courts should be very cautious and careful, and it should be granted sparingly and not as a matter of routine as such orders involve a court impinging on the jurisdiction of another court, which is not entertained very easily specially when it restrains the parties from instituting or continuing a case in a Foreign Court.

      In Modi Entertainment Network v. W.S.G. Cricket P.T.E. Ltd., (2003) 4 SCC 341, it was held that the courts in India like courts in England are courts of law and equity. The principles governing the grant of anti-suit injunction being essentially an equitable relief; the courts in India have the powers to issue anti-suit injunction to a party over whom it has personal jurisdiction in an appropriate case; this is because the courts of equity exercise jurisdiction in personam; this power has to be exercised sparingly where such an injunction is sought and if not granted, it would amount to the defeat of ends of justice and injustice would be perpetuated.

      In Vivek Rai Gupta v. Niyati Gupta, Civil Appeal No. 1123 of 2006, decided on 10.02.2016, it was held as under:

      “If the execution proceedings are filed by the respondent-wife for executing the aforesaid decree dated 18.09.2012 passed by the Court of Common Pleas. Cuyahoga Country, Ohio, U.S.A. against any other movable/immovable property in India it would be open to the appellant-husband to resist the said execution petition on any grounds available to him in law taking the position that such a decree is not executable.”

      Further, in Harmeeta Singh v. Rajat Taneja, 2003 (67) DRJ 58, the Delhi High Court considering the fact that the parties have lived together for a very short time in the United States of America had granted anti-suit injunction.

      In Y. Narasimha Rao v. Y. Venkata Lakshmi, (1991) 3 SCC 451, it was laid down as under:

      “From the aforesaid discussion the following rule can be deuced for recognizing a foreign matrimonial judgment in the country. The jurisdiction assumed by the foreign court as well as the grounds on which the relief is granted must be in accordance with the matrimonial law under which the parties are married. The exceptions to this rule may be as follows: (i) where the matrimonial action is filed in the forum where the respondent is domiciled or habitually and permanently resides and the relief is granted on a ground available in the matrimonial law under which the parties are married; (ii) where the respondent voluntarily and effectively submits to the jurisdiction of the forum as discussed above and contests the claim which is based on a ground available under the matrimonial law under which the parties are married; (iii) where the respondent consents to the grant of the relief although the jurisdiction of the forum is not in accordance with the provisions of the matrimonial law of the parties.” Dinesh Singh Thakur v. Sonal Thakur, 2018 (5) AWC 4487.

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Custody of Child – Welfare Priciple

The Hon’ble Apex Court in Gaurav Nagpal v. Sumedha Nagpal, (2009) 1 SCC 42, stated in detail the law relating to custody in England and America and pointed that even in those jurisdictions, welfare of the minor child is the first and paramount consideration and in order to determine child custody, the jurisdiction exercised by the court rests on its own inherent equality powers where the court acts as “parens patriae”.
The word welfare used in Section 13 of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 has to be construed literally and must be taken in its widest sense. The moral and ethical welfare of the child must also weigh with the court as well as its physical well being. Though the provisions of the special statutes which govern the rights of the parents or guardians may be taken into consideration, there is nothing which can stand in the way of the court exercising its parens patriae jurisdiction arising in such cases.
Second justification behind the “welfare” principle is the public interest that stand served with the optimal growth of the children. It is well recognized that children are the supreme asset of the nation. Rightful place of the child in the sizeable fabric has been recognized in many international covenants, which are adopted in this country as well. Child – centric human rights jurisprudence that has been evolved over a period of time is founded on the principle that public good demands proper growth of the child, who are the future of the nation. Vivek Singh v. Romani Singh, (2017) 3 SCC 231.

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Filed under Custody of Child, Family Law