Irked after a lawyer attached copies of the personal diary of an 11-year-old in the documents submitted in a custody dispute case, the Delhi High Court has issued directions to protect the privacy of children in custody and matrimonial disputes.
The court of Justice S Muralidhar, in its order issued on Thursday, noted that there was a “growing trend” among parties in family disputes and their lawyers to place “private and personal details” on record before the court.
“When a party seeks to rely on a document which in their assessment or that of their lawyer is of a sensitive nature — which contains details of a personal nature concerning a party or a person or their conduct and when disclosed is likely to affect the right to privacy or cause embarrassment — then such party and/or the lawyer will first apply to the court seeking leave to produce such document in a sealed cover,” the court has directed.
The 20-page judgment also states that if any “personal” document is filed, the family court will pass appropriate orders concerning the said document.
Further, it has directed that family court proceedings, including proceedings in High Court on appeals, be held in-camera as far as possible to preserve the privacy of the children.
The case relates to the custody dispute between a couple over their two minor children. The father, who approached the High Court to get custody, added copies of the personal diary of one of the children. The court pulled up the father’s lawyer for submitting it.
“The nature of the document is such that its casual disclosure by placing it in the public domain would irreparably compromise the right to privacy of the author of the document…,” the court said.
The bench noted that though litigants were unaware of the implications of putting private documents on record, lawyers should take steps to inform them about it. The court also pulled up the father and his lawyer for bringing the children to court.