Bholaram vs Smt. Parwati Sahu
F.A (M) No. 59 of 2009
Date of Judgment: October 7, 2010
- Court Name: Chhattisgarh High Court
- Case Name: Bholaram vs Smt. Parwati Sahu
- Appellant: Bholaram
- Respondent: Smt. Parwati Sahu
- Case No.: F.A (M) No. 59 of 2009
- Equivalent Citations: 2010 SCC OnLine Chh 233 : (2011) 99 AIC 625: AIR 2011 Chh 38
- Bench: Before Hon’ble Mr Justice I.M Quddusi & Hon’ble Mr Justice N.K Agarwal, JJ.
- Date of Judgment: October 7, 2010
- Acts Applied: Guardians and Wards Act (8 of 1890) – Sections 17, 25; Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act (32 of 1956) – Section 13
The Bholaram vs Smt Parwati Sahu case was heard in the Chhattisgarh High Court. The appeal was filed against the order of the Family Court, which dismissed the appellant’s application for custody of his minor child. The case primarily dealt with the role and duty of a Family Court judge in appointing a guardian for a Hindu minor, with the child’s welfare being the paramount consideration.
- The appellant, Bholaram, is the father of a minor child named Dhairya Kumar Sahu, aged about six years.
- The respondent is the child’s maternal grandmother (Nani).
- The appellant’s wife, Smt Yogita Sahu, died due to burn injuries sustained on January 28, 2005. A criminal trial is pending against the appellant and his family members for abetment of suicide.
- Since the death of the child’s mother, the respondent has had custody of the minor.
The main issues in the case were as follows:
- Whether the appellant, as the father and natural guardian of the child, is legally entitled to custody?
- What is in the best interest and welfare of the minor child?
- Should the personal law rights of the parties outweigh the welfare of the child in determining custody?
The appellant (Bholaram, the father of a minor child) claimed that he is the child’s natural guardian and is legally entitled to custody. He argued that his financial status is good, and it would be in the child’s best interest to have the love, affection, and proper care of a father. The appellant also criticized the respondent as greedy and only interested in accessing funds belonging to the deceased wife.
The respondent (the child’s maternal grandmother or Nani) countered the appellant’s claims by charging him with a criminal background and bad character. She argued that she has been maintaining the child with caution and care, providing an environment conducive to the child’s growth.
The court, after considering the impugned order and the records of the trial court, made the following observations:
- The appellant (the child’s father) has contracted a second marriage and is facing a trial for abetment of suicide.
- The minor child’s welfare is paramount in appointing a guardian, as per the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956, and the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890.
- The court should appoint the most suitable person as the guardian, considering the child’s welfare, even if another person would be entitled to custody under personal law.
- Previous Supreme Court judgments emphasize that the child’s welfare is the sole and single yardstick to determine custody.
- The parent’s financial resources and their love for the child may be relevant but cannot be the sole determining factors.
- The child’s custody should not be disturbed if there is no material showing that the child’s welfare is at risk or that the child is unhappy in the current arrangement.
Principles Laid Down in the Case
- The minor child’s welfare is the paramount consideration in determining custody.
- The court should appoint the most suitable person as the guardian, considering the child’s welfare.
- The parent’s financial resources and their love for the child are relevant but not the sole determining factors.
- The court should exercise judicial discretion judiciously, considering all relevant facts and circumstances.
In this case, the Chhattisgarh High Court upheld the decision of the Family Court and dismissed the appellant’s application for custody of the minor child. The court emphasized the child’s welfare as the primary consideration. It noted that the appellant’s criminal trial for abetment of suicide and his second marriage raised concerns about his suitability as the guardian. The court also acknowledged the respondent’s careful and nurturing care of the child since the death of the child’s mother.
The court laid down the principle that the child’s welfare should prevail over personal law rights and that the court should appoint the most suitable guardian, considering the child’s best interests. The court clarified that financial resources and love for the child are relevant factors but should not be the sole determining factors.
Ultimately, the court concluded that since there was no material showing that the child’s welfare was at risk or that the child was unhappy with the respondent’s current arrangement, it was inappropriate to disturb the custody arrangement. Therefore, the appellant’s application for custody was rejected, and the respondent, the child’s maternal grandmother, retained custody of the minor child.
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