KOCHI:The Kerala High Court has held that the Family Court was not expected to blindly accept reports submitted by the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) while taking decision on custody of children.
A Division Bench comprising Justice C K Abdul Rehim and Justice Anil K Narendran issued the order while dismissing a plea filed by the mother of two children in Kottayam. The Family Court had granted custody and guardianship of the two minor boys to their father and visitation rights to the mother.
When the interim custody period was about to expire, the children approached the Child Helpline with a complaint, and consequently the CWC interfered in the issue. The Committee found that the father, who was having custody of the children, had not been treating the children properly, and often abused them physically.
Hence, the children were not sent back to the father, and were sent to children’s home. In the meantime, the wife filed a petition seeking to modify the order regarding custody of the children, but the husband opposed it. He alleged that the order passed by the CWC was illegal as one of its members was the former advocate of the wife.
According to the father, the advocate influenced the children. Later, the Family court allowed interim custody of the children to the father.
Challenging the Family Court’s order, the mother approached the High Court. Dismissing the petition, the court observed that while taking a decision on the custody of children, the paramount consideration of the Family Court should be the welfare and well-being of the children, and not the rights of their parents who are at loggerheads with each other.
“While dealing with such matters, the Family Court is not expected to blindly accept the reports of the CWC, or, the statement of the children recorded by the Committee,” held the court.
The court pointed out that permanent custody of the children until they become majors was given to the father, and that the mother was entitled to have their temporary custody for a period of 20 days every year - when she comes on leave from her workplace abroad.
Later, the Family Court brushed aside the report of the CWC and the statement given by the elder son in the court, and observed that the children were unduly influenced by the mother while they were in her custody. The High Court upheld the decision.