Uttarakhand HC Appreciates the Effort Taken by Couple Regarding Custody of Their Child

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On 30th August 2020, a Single Judge Bench of Hon’ble Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia heard the case of Julia May Salo – Mani v. State of Uttarakhand via video conferencing.

Facts of the case

The petition was filed by Ms. Julia May Salo Mani where she alleged that she is a US citizen and had married Mr. Arpan Mani in India. Thereafter the two resided in USA and Thailand, and out of the wedlock, a child was born, namely, Master Liam. While the couple was residing in Thailand, the child was taken away, allegedly in a deceitful manner by the husband to India. 

This petition was filed by the petitioner with the following reliefs:

Issue a writ of Habeas Corpus, directed to the Respondent, for production of Master Liam before the Hon’ble Court. 

Grant custody of Master Liam to the petitioner, as both are lawful citizens of the United States of America, and as Master Liam was not authorised to reside in India beyond September 2020.

Issue a writ of Mandamus directing the Respondent for providing protection to the petitioner in order for her to visit Master Liam in Dehradun and take him into her custody.

Proceedings

The proceeding took place on three consecutive days:

28.08.2020

The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Dehradun was directed to ensure the presence of the respondent along with the child, namely, Master Liam in the Court premises of Dehradun on 29.08.2020 at 11:00 AM so as to interact with the child as well as the father through video conferencing. 

Since the petitioner was also in Dehradun, she was also directed to be present in the Court premises in Dehradun. 

Further the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Dehradun was directed that it was not a police case but a matrimonial case, so all due and necessary care should be taken care of while ensuring the presence of the petitioner, father/respondent, and the child Master Liam before the Court through video conferencing.

29.08.2020

Master Liam gave a clear answer to the Court that he would like to stay with both his parents and he is fond of both of them. Looking at the best interest of the child, the Court asked the parties to work out for a solution.

Ms. Julia May Salo Mani was allowed to take the child with her. It was decided that the child would stay with Ms. Julia May Salo Mani overnight. Further, the husband Sri Arpan Mani would also stay in the same campus, if Ms. Julia May Salo Mani had no problem with him staying in the same guest house. 

30.08.2020

The Court was informed that the two parties had a long and sincere discussion between them on the previous day. The mother i.e. Ms. Julia May Salo Mani had sincerely desired and expressed her wish to take the child with her to the USA, but in view of the Covid-19 pandemic situation and keeping the best interest as well as the safety of the child in mind, she conceded that, and purely as an interim arrangement, the child (Master Liam) should stay with his father in Dehradun. 

The petitioner Ms. Julia May Salo Mani, however, stated that she would make all possible efforts to return in December 2020, when the future of the child would be discussed between the parties. It was further made clear that the parties had not reached a final solution as to the custody of the child. The two had also reached an agreement that the parties would make every possible effort to have a conversation, through a virtual medium, as far as possible on daily basis, but in any case, positively at least twice a week.

Court’s Decision

The Court observed that there were no other cases between the parties and recorded that there was a sincere effort from both sides to work for a solution in the best interest of the child. 

This Court appreciated their effort and decided to list the case on 18.12.2020.


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