8888677771 | Bombay high court gives aunt custody of boy, his parents visiting rights | Mumbai News

MUMBAI: The Bombay HC has declared the paternal aunt of a four-year-old boy his “true and lawful” guardian but granted his parents access to visit him frequently.
Justice Riyaz Chagla‘s October 5 order said the decision to grant custody to the aunt was based on the principle of parens patriae as laid down by the SC, under which a court assumes the role of a parent to take decisions for the child’s welfare. The judge observed that the boy’s mother suffered from “deep psychological issues” and the father was “very aggressive”.
The aunt’s guardianship petition said that her brother has been jobless since his marriage.
Judge finds boy ‘attached’ to widowed aunt, gives custody
The aunt’s petition said the boy’s mother has an unstable mental condition and other health issues. The child was born in August 2019. Given the parents’ inability to take care of the child, after his birth at Wadia Hospital, a doctor handed him to the aunt with their consent. In March 2021 the brother filed a police complaint that his sister had abducted his son and illegally retained custody. The police made her hand him over to the parents. But in less than two months, the boy’s condition deteriorated due to malnutrition. In May his mother phoned his aunt and asked her to take him. The aunt then informed the police. Thereafter the boy was back with her with his parents’ consent.
Her petition said she is financially capable of taking care of the future well-being and education of the child. Her advocate Filji Frederick said she can provide him a better quality of life. The parents opposed the aunt’s petition saying because they are poor she forcefully took him away. Justice Chagla had appointed a court commissioner who visited both residences and gave a positive report about the aunt’s residence. After considering the facts of the case, the judge said the child had been under the love and care of the aunt since his birth and though there are police complaints by his father, “the fact is that the minor child still remains with the petitioner (aunt) and the respondents have consented to the same” by visiting him at his aunt’s residence to celebrate his birthday as seen from photographs.
Justice Chagla also interacted in his chambers with the boy and found that “he is extremely attached” to his aunt, a widow with no children of her own. He said the boy’s welfare would be best served by the aunt being made his “true and lawful guardian.” He allowed the parents to take their son for outings subject to him being returned to the aunt’s residence on the same day. He granted the aunt liberty to move the court “in the event there is any difficulty in implementing this order.”

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