The Bombay High Court, while asking a television actor and her estranged actor husband to play the role of parents to their son as “adeptly” as they would play through their characters in “reel life”, granted visitation rights to the husband, who had approached the court with a habeas corpus petition seeking custody of the child.
The HC, however, refused to direct the actor to hand over custody of the nearly five-year old child to her estranged husband.
The court, while dismissing the plea, allowed the husband to meet the son every weekday through videoconference for 30 minutes as per child’s comfort and convenience. It also granted the husband access through physical visit with the son on Saturday and Sunday for two hours.
A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice N J Jamadar was hearing a writ petition filed by the estranged husband seeking custody of the child, who was born to the couple in 2016.
The husband sought custody of the son stating that the mother could not devote any time for parenting and development of the child due to her professional commitments. He added that the couple started living separately in the same residential complex, albeit in different buildings due to matrimonial dispute, but the mother did not allow the father to meet the minor son, hence the plea.
The bench noted that while ascertaining who should get custody of the minor child, the “paramount consideration” is the “welfare of the minor” which includes “emotional, intellectual and holistic development”, and not the legal rights of the parents. “Welfare is a term with a wide connotation. it is not restricted to physical comfort and well being,” the bench said.
The bench held, “We are of the view that there are no exceptional circumstances which would warrant a departure from ‘tender years rule’. Nor is there such material which prima-facie indicates that the custody with the respondent mother is detrimental to the welfare and development of the child. We are, therefore, not inclined to direct the change in custody.”