Over two years into the trial, the court broke away from the conventional approach and held that those “caring and capable” hands of the aged couple are the right ones to take care of Khushi (name changed).
The custody case was filed by her mother, Sakshi, on the established contention that a mother is the best guardian for her child.
Dismissing the petition, Additional District Judge (ADJ) Kamini Lau observed that the notion could not be approved in all cases.
Lau observed that while deciding a matter pertaining to custody of a child torn between warring guardians, the paramount consideration had to be her welfare and all other arguments could be put to rest.
“For a society that has been changing swiftly with the times, the courts, which have often inclined towards mothers, need to re-look and introspect before deciding such cases,” said the judge.
“It can no longer be ignored that there is a societal shift, particularly in urban areas, where women have also undertaken the role of a bread earner in addition to the traditional role of housekeeping,” said the court, pointing to the fact that the children were often with their grandparents when their mothers were at work.
“In the process, the minor children spend more time with their grandparents and other members of the family and get more attached to them,” noted the ADJ.
Honouring the role of grandparents in such a set-up, the court said: “Let us not ignore the strong emotional bond that exists between grandparents and children in our traditional Indian homes.”
Sakshi had moved the court against her in-laws, seeking Khushi’s custody from her grandparents, with whom the girl had been staying since her birth.
According to Sakshi, a nurse in a private hospital here, she was the best one to look after the interest of Khushi after her husband’s death.
She had left her matrimonial home in 2004 and since then Khushi has been with her grandparents. Sakshi has another child who stays with her.
The ADJ found it best to hear out the girl before deciding the case.
Unequivocal and straight, Khushi told the judge that she was happy with her grandparents, who took good care of her, and that she did not want to go with her mother.
Convinced about the strong emotional bond that the girl shared with her grandparents, the court also noted that since Sakshi was a working woman, she would have less time for Khushi, while her grandparents could devote ample time to her.
The judge also looked into the economical aspects and observed that her grandparents were getting their regular pensions while Sakshi’s earning were not consistent.
“In view of her wishes, if the custody of the minor girl is disturbed, it would be detrimental to her interest. The better welfare of the minor demands that she be allowed to continue under the care and custody of her grandparents,” held the court.