The Supreme Court suggested on Thursday that parents having visitation rights can contact their children through electronic means during the nationwide lockdown period instead of visiting them.
The top court said that if there is grievance with regard to contact through electronic means, the aggrieved party could approach the family court.
A bench of Justices NV Ramana, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and BR Gavai disposed of two separate petitions seeking directions for contact with children during the lockdown period saying that the parties in questions have to arrive at a mutually acceptable arrangement for enabling contact through electronic means.
"The grievance of the petitioner is that because of lockdown, the children are unable to interact with their parents even though they have visitation rights for the purpose. If they have visitation rights, we suggest that electronic contact instead of physical visits can be substituted in these times. The parties can arrive at mutually acceptable arrangements in this behalf," the bench ordered on a PIL filed by one Tanuj Dhawan.
The bench, which took up the matters through video conferencing, said, "If there is an aggrieved party, the same can approach the Family Court".
Dhawan, who appeared in the matter, told the bench that because of lockdown, the children are unable to interact with their parents even though they have visitation rights for the purpose.
Dealing with another petition filed by Venkatesh Srinivasa Rao, the bench said that it does not find it necessary to issue encompassing guidelines to facilitate video calls between the child and non-custodial parents.
Rao in his petition had sought guidelines for daily electronic access in the form of minimum of one-hour video call to be facilitated between the child and the non-custodial parents, who have already been granted visitation rights by any competent court.
To this, the bench said, "We do not find it permissible to issue encompassing guidelines on the said subject".
Counsel appearing for Rao, conceded to the suggestions of the bench that wherever the parties are mutually agreeable, they can always arrange for an electronic interaction and if there is resistance, they will have to approach the concerned Family Court for the purpose.