Seeking Psychiatric Treatment Does Not Make One Mentally Unstable, Says Delhi High Court

The court made the observation while disposing off a habeas corpus writ petition filed by the mother, who alleges her daughter was taken from her.

Seeking Psychiatric Treatment Does Not Make One Mentally Unstable, Says Delhi High Court

The Court noted that stress was a normal and seeking care did not make one unsound. (Representation)

New Delhi:  Consulting a psychotherapist does not mean a person is mentally unsound. It is a common practice in today's stressful life, said the Delhi High Court in the case of a psychiatric patient being kept away from her daughter.

A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and P S Teji made the observation while disposing off a habeas corpus writ petition filed by the mother seeking a direction to her husband to bring their one-year-old daughter before the. She alleges that her in-laws forcibly took away her daughter.

The bench, while granting interim custody of the child to her mother, also dismissed the husband's argument that the woman was not naturally attached to the child who was born out of surrogacy, and observed that the mother would not have any less love and affection merely because of this factor.

"The child in question is a one-year old baby girl. Though she was born out of surrogacy, she is nevertheless the biological mother of the child, and the respondent (her husband) is the biological father." the court said. 

Regarding the woman's mental health, the court said there could be various reasons due to which she was taking medication but that does not mean she does not possess mental equilibrium.

"Our interaction with the petitioner (mother) does not give us the impression that she is mentally or psychiatrically unstable to look after the minor child at this stage. It is not uncommon for people to resort to counseling when they have matrimonial disputes. In today's time, when one is faced with stress originating from different aspects of life, one may seek professional help from a trained counselor to resolve dilemmas and reduce his or her stress." the court noted.

"It is no longer a taboo in our society to consult a psychotherapist or a psychiatrist or counselor, as it was in the earlier days. Merely because a person may go for such like therapy and consultation, it does not follow that the person does not possess mental equilibrium or is mentally unsound," the bench said.

The bench also observed that the professional and social obligations of a woman did not mean that she wasn't a good mother. "In our view, the professional and social obligations of the mother need not necessarily have an adverse impact on the upbringing and safety of the child. In today's age, women are actively pursuing their professions." The court noted

The court added that working women have to maintain a balance between their homes and workplaces and they are doing it successfully

It said the submission of the husband "devalues the great qualities of love and bonding that are experienced not only by human beings, but all animal species."

The woman, in her petition filed in February this year, alleged that her daughter was taken to Thailand and Dubai by her father-in-law with her consent in December 2017. She said she had planned to join them in Dubai and take her daughter to the US for holidays but her in-laws did not let her meet the child when she reached Dubai.

The family even refused to hand over the child's passport to her, it said, adding that a quarrel broke out between the woman and her husband and she was asked to leave their house. She returned to Delhi and filed a habeas corpus writ petition seeking that her daughter be brought to her.

The girl was brought to Delhi but remained with her paternal grandparents. A custody battle is pending between the couple in a family court here.

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