“Patna High Court Upholds Family Court Order Grant of Custody to Minor Girl’s Father: A Reminder That Children Are Not Property”

Children’s welfare is paramount, and they are not to be treated as mere objects by their parents. Recently, the Patna High Court upheld a family court decision that granted custody of a minor girl to her father. The girl expressed her unhappiness with her mother and stepfather, who she claimed had touched her inappropriately. A case under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 registered against the step-father was pending adjudication.The court noted that the best interests of the child were paramount in making the decision.

A Bench of Justices Harish Kumar and Ashutosh Kumar was hearing an appeal filed by the mother challenging a family court order which held that it would be in the best interest of the 6-year-old girl child to remain with her father, as her brother was already living with him. 

The mother challenged the family court’s decision, but the High Court rejected her appeal. The father was granted physical custody of the child, while the mother was given visitation rights during school holidays and festivals once a month. The court also clarified that the decision was not irreversible and would depend on the child’s wishes in the future.

During the divorce proceedings, the parties agreed to custody arrangements for their children. However, the mother remarried within seven days of the divorce, which raised concerns for the child’s safety. The father was concerned about the safety of the child in the mother’s custody, particularly after the girl expressed her dissatisfaction with her mother and stepfather.

The court observed that, under normal circumstances, a girl child would be better off with her mother. However, in the current circumstances, the girl would be better off staying with her father, as she would have the company of her brother.

The decision highlights the importance of considering the best interests of the child in custody disputes. It also underscores the fact that children are not to be treated as property, and their welfare must be given the utmost priority. The court’s decision serves as a reminder to parents that their rights over their children are not absolute and must yield to the balanced growth and welfare of their children.

Advocate Abu Bakar represented the mother, while Senior Advocate JS Arora and Advocate Krishna Chandra appeared for the father.

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