A man's kidnapping his toddler daughter and taking her illegally to Dubai, away from his estranged wife, has invited the wrath of a Delhi court which has declared the mother to be the guardian and custodian of the child for "her paramount interest and welfare".
Despite giving an undertaking to the court that the two-and-a-half-year-old girl will not be taken out of the national capital and her passport deposited in the court, the man chose to flee the country with the minor in a "pre-planned manner".
Taking note of the man's conduct, Principal Judge of Family Court Swarna Kanta Sharma said children are like flowers who reflect the kind of care and upbringing they receive and the paramount interest of the child cannot be with the parent who had defied law and taken the minor away from her mother to live as a fugitive in another country.
"It will be in the paramount interest and welfare of the minor that the mother is declared sole, exclusive and absolute guardian and custodian of the child," the court recently said, ordering that the girl be handed over to the woman within one month.
While the man himself had approached the family court seeking to be declared a guardian of the child and the matter was pending, he left India and approached another forum in the foreign land for the minor's custody.
The woman's counsel submitted that since the matter regarding the child's custody was sub-judice before the court in Delhi, the man cannot choose a judicial forum for redressal of his grievances at his whims and fancies.
The court noted that in August when the girl was with the man, he in connivance with others took a flight to Bagdogra in West Bengal and crossed Nepal. He flew out from Kathmandu on Qatar Airways to Doha, then to Muscat and reached Dubai.
This prompted the mother, who was earlier granted the child's interim custody, to file a habeas corpus in the Delhi High Court seeking production of the girl as she was not returned to her by the man. The father and grandparents were granted visitation rights.
A habeas corpus plea requires a person under unlawful custody to be brought before a judge or a court.
The man has also been held guilty of contempt of court by the high court for flouting the judicial order and taking the child out of the country despite giving an undertaking.
Later, the man filed an affidavit in the high court making certain allegations against the woman and also claimed that it was his love for the child that forced him to take this step which did not find favour with the court.
This argument was not accepted by the family court which said if he had the best interest of the child in mind, he would not have put her at risk by taking her to another country in an illegal manner as the passport was deposited with the high court.
"The children at the age that the minor child in this case is, are like clay and mould themselves as they are moulded. It is not expected of a good parent to teach the child how to dodge the court, the authorities and the law.
"As a good parent, it was his duty to have ensured that a lawful course was adopted by him to teach the child so," the family court judge said.
The man, while justifying his act of running away, had also alleged in his affidavit that courts in India "do not consider the merits in detail and pass orders without caring for the emotions and the results".
On this, the judge said the averment is "contemptuous" and the Indian courts do not need validation from a person who himself has broken the law and has no respect for the court and says something out of his own insecurities.
"The courts in India will not be devalued by insecurity of a litigant. The father forgets that it was the Indian courts that had given him visitation rights most liberally and it was only because of those liberal visitations that he could kidnap the child," the court said.
It said if the mother or the court would not have given him access to the girl, she would not have been kidnapped and this also shows that the wanted that the child should get the father's love.
The woman had earlier told the court that in 2017, her father-in-law had taken the baby to Bangkok for a trip and from there, he took her to Dubai where he has a residence.
When she went to Dubai, she was not allowed to meet the child after which she approached the court and the minor was brought back to Delhi.
The high court had earlier made it clear that both the parents shall strictly abide by the interim custody and visitation arrangement and other conditions, and if it is reported that either of the two parties have not complied with this condition, or have resisted its compliance, the court shall reconsider the arrangement.