On 8th November 2019, Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharya stated in the matter of C.O No. 3704 of 2019 stated that the petitioner, Ritesh Panda, is “justified in arguing that the trial court acted without jurisdiction in refusing the visitation rights” to the petitioner/father of his minor child.
The matter was next heard on 17th December 2019 by Justice Shampa Sarkar.
The Court held that due to the “mental state of the child” after the suicide of his mother, the learned court thought it was prudent to keep the father away from the child.
Arguments of the Learned Counsel
The learned advocate on behalf of the petitioner stated that the learned Court had prejudged the issue by taking the view that the child will be tutored by the father during the visits. According to the learned judge, this could not have been allowed as the child is a vital witness in the case of his mother’s suicide.
The learned counsel also pointed out that the learned judge should not have outrightly rejected the plea without interacting with the child. The bonding between the father and son will not grow if such visitation rights will not be allowed.
The Court’s Order
On 17th December, the Court upheld that “keeping in mind the welfare of the child”, it was not prudent to pass an ex parte order of visitation at this stage. The Court held that
“in a situation of this nature, interaction with the child by the Court is also necessary.”
On 27th February, both the parties were presented in Court along with the minor child. The learned judge interacted with the child and came to the conclusion that it will not be wise to allow a normal interaction between the father and the child as the child “is still shaken up from the trauma of the death of his mother”.
The Court also stated that the child resisted speaking or meeting his father. Keeping the interaction in mind, the learned Judge decided that, as a test case, the father “may be allowed to get a glimpse of the child from a distance” i.e. from the verandah of the house.
The Court has situated the following rules for the interim arrangement to take place under the unfortunate circumstances;
- only the advocate on record will accompany the petitioner during the visits. The learned advocate of the opposite party is also allowed to be present during the visit.
- interaction or conversation will be permitted.
- the duration shall not be more than 10-15 minutes.
- the arrangement is fixed for 7th and 21st March 2020 between 3 pm to 3.15 pm.
- No resistance or aggression should be shown from either party.
Further orders will be passed after interacting with the child at a later stage. The matter is fixed for the month of April 2020.
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