Hyderabad: In a significant judgment, Telangana High Court said parents should neither use the child as a pawn and nor poison his or her mind to pin down each other.
Hearing a child custody contempt case, the court said parents cannot be a guest in the life of their child.
Petitioner-husband and respondent-wife had a boy child. The two were no longer in a marital relationship and were contesting the custody of their child. In 2019, the family court had ordered that child custody shall be shared equally by both parents.
Later, a petition was filed by the father before the Telangana High Court claiming that the respondent had violated the family court order.
He also claimed that the mother had been taking inappropriate photographs of their child by taking the child to the Niloufer Hospital at midnight and getting the child's private parts tested for COVID-19 and in doing so, had grossly violated COVID-19 norms.
The counsel for the petitioner stated that the respondent has given the child, who is 6 years old, a mobile phone and is teaching him to send certain messages with an intention to implicate him and his family. The child had done this innocently, without knowing the consequences of his action.
In response to these claims made by the petitioner, the respondent refused the custody of the child to the petitioner. She said she was concerned that the petitioner might commit homosexual acts upon him.
The respondent, while defending her actions, also stated that she took the child to the hospital and also made audio and video recordings and his private parts were photographed only in the interest of the child.
The court, in this case, made certain important observations after examining the child's movements and concluded that he is not fearful of the petitioner.
The respondent had told the Court that the reason why she had not allowed the child back into the petitioner's custody was because she thought that the petitioner's careless actions would result in the child contracting COVID-19.
"It is further strange to accept the behavior of the mother that on one hand, she takes shelter of coronavirus for not sending the child to his father, but on the other hand she took the child to the police station, and hospital for examining his private parts and made serious allegations against the father that he has committed a sexual assault upon the child," the court said.
The court also found the respondent guilty of contempt. However, since she had expressed her unconditional apology and prayed for pardon, the court took a lenient stand against her.
The court issued a slew of directions to the respondent and the petitioner about the shared custody of their child.
"To win over each other, the parents shall not use the child as a pawn against each other. The parents should not poison the mind of the child. The child shall not be given a mobile phone. He can use the mobile phone only under parental guidance. Both mother and father shall have custody of the child during vacation equally. During vacations, if the mother and the child intend to go on a domestic or international trip, the father shall make their travel and stay arrangements and bear with all such expenses. The parties are strictly prohibited from taking obscene photos or videos of the child as well as audio recordings. All the existing photos, CDs, and videos should be destroyed and they shall not be used hereafter," the court directed.
The court said that if visitation rights only are granted for limited hours, it may not be sufficient for the child to have a comfortable time with the father or mother, whoever may be the case.
"The wider the gap, the bonds get broken quicker and the child is left confused and ends up believing this. Such acts of any parent in separating a child from the other parent should be nipped in the bud otherwise the separated parent ends up becoming a guest in the life of the child," said the court.