In a custody battle between an Italian national and his estranged Indian wife,who were granted the guardianship of a six-year-old girl in 2010,the Bombay High Court Wednesday said it would be unfair if the child were to be sent back to an orphanage. We are concerned about the welfare of the girl, the court said.
The couple,in their 50s,had been granted guardianship of the girl by Pune-based Renuka adoption centre,three years ago. However,a year later,the couple parted ways and the wife moved to her native Goa with the child and lived there for about seven months.
In an ex-parte order passed in July 2011,however,a family court in Pune granted the childs custody to the husband. Contesting the family court order,the wife moved the High Court for exclusive custody of the child and maintenance from her husband. The husband,claiming to be the better guardian,sought permanent custody of the child.
Lawyer Mihir Desai,appointed amicus curiae (friend of the court) by the court,however,cautioned that the court should take an early decision on the childs adoption as the couple may abandon her at a later stage. Today theyre arguing on guardianship,but tomorrow they may abandon her, Desai said.
Observing that the childs welfare was of utmost importance,Justices V M Kanade and M S Sonak reserved their order in the case till November 25.
The Italian national,a consultant with an automobile company,came to India on business in 1998 and currently lives in Pune. He met his wife in 1999 and they got married in 2006 in Goa.
The wifes lawyers Rohaan Cama and Edith Dey told the High Court that while granting the childs custody to the husband,the family court had taken into account his contention that the child should not be kept with his wife in Goa as she had an ailing mother to look after and would not be able to tend to the childs needs. Citing Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) guidelines,they argued that the girl child should have the mother by her side,especially while growing up. A single male has no right to take custody of the girl child, Cama said.
The wife had sought an interim order granting her access to the child. The court suggested that if the she could stay in Pune three days a week,she could get access to the child.
The husbands lawyer Abhijit Sarvate argued that the CARA guidelines would apply only to children adopted after 2011,as held by the Supreme Court. Sarvate submitted photographs of the girl while she was living with her mother in Goa and alleged that the pictures showed unhealthy living conditions.
He also alleged that his wife was more interested in money and not the childs welfare.