October 16, 2008 1:32:53 am
The battle for the custody of a one-year-old boy, given away by his biological parents at the time of birth owing to “social stigma”, took a new twist on Wednesday with his foster parents challenging the jurisdiction of the magistrate who passed the order.
Appearing before the court along with the child in pursuance of the non-bailable warrants issued against them, the current custodians told Metropolitan Magistrate Naveen Arora that since the boy’s custody was disputed, only the district judge or a guardian judge was the competent authority to decide the matter.
“With due respect to the court, it is contended that the learned judge lacks the jurisdiction to decide the custody of the child,” advocates D D Singla and Nitin Sharma said, after the magistrate gave them the opportunity to be heard before passing any further direction.
The case had hogged the limelight after the magistrate, acting on a complaint by the child’s natural parents, had last week asked the foster parents to hand over the boy to the former couple, who had given the infant away because of his birth before their marriage.
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Trouble began after the lovers got married and sought the custody of their child, alleging that he had actually been given away on a “temporary basis”. His current custodians, however, refused to part with the boy, whom they have nursed for a year, saying it was a valid and permanent adoption.
The boy’s foster parents today argued before the court that the way they had adopted the child was also good keeping in view provisions of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act. “No particular ceremony or execution of any legal instrument is required for a valid adoption, and voluntary handing over of a child by his parents is sufficient to constitute a legally binding adoption,” the counsel said.
Opposing this view, counsel for the biological parents, Kamal Singh Pundir, said that since the custody itself was wrongful, the court was empowered to decide the matter according to the legal position on the issue.
Metropolitan Magistrate Arora, who had earlier cleared that what he had written in his order was on the basis of prima facie evidence on record, chose to adjourn the matter till tomorrow and said the court would adjudicate the disputed issue on Thursday at 4 pm.
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