A division bench of Justice Anil K Narendran and Justice PG Ajithkumar was considering a plea by a 32-year-old woman from Manjoor in Kottayam challenging Ernakulam family court’s order to hand over her two-year-old daughter to her estranged husband, a native of Kalamassery in Kochi.
The family court had ordered the child’s interim custody to the father from 10.30am on all second Saturdays until 4pm on ensuing Sundays. She was also directed to hand over the child from 10.30am to 4pm on all Sundays except second Sundays.
At the high court, the mother contended that she has a weekly off on Sunday and it is difficult to comply with the family court’s order. The high court said it is the child’s best interest that should be the criterion of family courts and it was taken into consideration by the Ernakulam family court.
Citing a 2020 SC judgment (Yashita Sahu vs State of Rajasthan), the high court said the apex court had noted that a child, especially a young one, requires the love, affection, company, and protection of both parents. “It is not only the requirement of the child but his or her basic human right,” the court said. Just because the parents are at war with each other, it does not mean that the child should be denied the care, affection, love, or protection of any one of the two parents, the court added.
“A child is not an inanimate object… Every separation and every reunion may have a traumatic and psychosomatic impact… Therefore, it is to be ensured that the court weighs each and every circumstance very carefully before deciding how and in what manner the custody of the child should be shared between both parents. Even if the custody is given to one parent, the other parent must have sufficient visitation rights… It is only in extreme circumstances that one parent should be denied contact with the child,” the judgment of November 1 stated.