Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Child Custody Under Hindu Law

Child Custody Under Hindu Law:All the personal law matrimonial statutes make provisions for dealing with the issue of child custody. The provisions in the matrimonial Acts can, however, be invoked only when there are some proceedings pending under the Act. Hindus have an additional Act, viz the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act 1956 (HMGA). Apart from this, there is the Guardians and Wards Act 1890 (GWA). This is a secular law for appointment and declaration of guardians and allied matters, irrespective of caste, community or religion, though in certain matters, the court will give consideration to the personal law of the parties. The provisions of the HMGA (and other personal laws) and the GWA are complementary and not in derogation to each other, and the courts are obliged to read them together in a harmonious way. In determining the question of custody and guardianship, the paramount consideration is the welfare of the minor. The word `welfare' has to be taken in its widest sense, and must include the child's, moral as well as physical well-being, and also have regard to the ties of affection. The English and Indian decisions are replete with such statements that : (i) the children of tender years should be committed to the custody of the mother, (ii) older boys should be in the custody of the father, and (iii) older girls in the custody of the mother. But these are judicial statements of general nature and there is no hard. and fast rule. As to the children of tender years it is now a firmly established practice that mother. should have their custody since father cannot provide that maternal affection which are essential for their proper growth. It is also now ac for proper psychological development of children of tender years ma is indispensable.
The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 contains a provision which lays down that custody of a child upon the age of five should ordinarily be with the mother. Under other personal laws, though it is no such statutory provision, the Indian courts have consistently taken view. The following observation of Beaumont, CJ. represents the judicial knew ......if mother is a suitable person to take charge of the child quite impossible to find an adequate substitute for her for the child.
In In Re Kamal Rudra Das J. expressed the same view vividly thus : „,
I have no doubt in my mind that the mother's lap is God's own cradle for a child of this age, and that as between father and mother, other things being equal, a child of such tender age should remain with mother.'
But a mother who neglects the infant child as she does not want to sacrifice the type of life she leading can be deprived of custody.
In respect of older children our courts take the view that the male children above the age of sixteen years and female children above the age of fourteen years, should not ordinarily be compelled to live in the custody to which they object.' However, even the wishes of the mature children will be given consideration only if they are consistent with their welfare! In Venkataramma v.. Tulsi,' the court disregarded the wishes of the children as it found these to induced by wholesale persuasion and were even tortured.
Custody to third persons. -Ordinarily, custody should be given to either of the parents. But where welfare so requires, custody may be given to a third person. In Baby v., Vijay granting custody of two minor children to maternal grandfather, the court observed that even if the father was not found unfit, custody might be given to a third person in the welfare of the child.

1 comment:

  1. I was interested to know more about the "Venkataramma v.. Tulsi" Case. From where I can get this complete detail for the same.