The Division Bench of the Apex Court held as follows (in regards to Custody of Children):
8. Whenever a question arises before a court pertaining to the custody of a minor child, the matter is to be decided not on considerations of the legal rights of parties but on the sole and predominant criterion of what would best serve the interest and welfare of the minor. We have twice interviewed Dustan in our chambers and talked with him. We found him to be too tender in age and totally immature to be able to form any independent opinion of his own as to which parent he should stay with. The child is an American citizen. Excepting for the last few months that have elapsed since his being brought to India by the process of illegal abduction by the father, he has spent the rest of his life in the United States of America and he was doing well in school there. In our considered opinion it will be in the best interests and welfare of Dustan that he should go back to the United States of America and continue his education there under the custody and guardianship of the mother to whom such custody and guardianship have been entrusted by a competent court in that country. We are also satisfied that the petitioner who is the mother, is full of genuine love and affection for the child and she can be safely trusted to look after him, educate him and attend in every possible way to his proper upbringing. The child has not taken root in this country and he is still accustomed and acclimatized to the conditions and environments obtaining in the place of his origin in the United States of America. The child’s presence in India is the result of an illegal act of abduction and the father who is guilty of the said act cannot claim any advantage by stating that he has already put the child in some school in Pune. The conduct of the father has not been such as to inspire confidence in us that he is a fit and suitable person to be entrusted with the custody and guardianship of the child for the present.
Comity of Courts:
9. In Re H. (infants)1 the Court of Appeal in England had occasion to consider a somewhat similar question. That case concerned the abduction to England of two minor boys who were American citizens. The father was a natural-born American citizen and the mother, though of Scottish origin, had been resident for 20 years in the United States of America. They were divorced in 1953 by a decree in Mexico, which embodied provisions entrusting the custody of the two boys to the mother with liberal access to the father. By an amendment made in that order in December 1964, a provision was incorporated that the boys should reside at all times in the State of New York and should at all times be under the control and jurisdiction of the State of New York. In March 1965, the mother removed the boys to England, without having obtained the approval of the New York court, and without having consulted the father; she purchased a house in England with the intention of remaining there permanently and of cutting off all contacts with the father. She ignored an order made in June 1965, by the Supreme Court of New York State to return the boys there. On a motion on notice given by the father in the Chancery Division of the Court in England, the trial Judge Cross, J. directed that since the children were American children and the American court was the proper court to decide the issue of custody, and as it was the duty of courts in all countries to see that a parent doing wrong by removing children out of their country did not gain any advantage by his or her wrongdoing, the court without going into the merits of the question as to where and with whom the children should live, would order that the children should go back to America. In the appeal filed against the said judgment in the Court of Appeal, Willmer, L.J while dismissing the appeal extracted with approval the following passage from the judgment of Cross, J.‡:
“The sudden and unauthorised removal of children from one country to another is far too frequent nowadays, and as it seems to me, it is the duty of all courts in all countries to do all they can to ensure that the wrongdoer does not gain an advantage by his wrongdoing.
Elizabeth Dinshaw Vs Arvand M.Dinshaw and Anr on 11 Nov 1986
The courts in all countries ought, as I see it, to be careful not to do anything to encourage this tendency. This substitution of self-help for due process of law in this field can only harm the interests of wards generally, and a Judge should, as I see it, pay regard to the orders of the proper foreign court unless he is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that to do so would inflict serious harm on the child.”
10. With respect we are in complete agreement with the aforesaid enunciation of the principles of law to be applied by the courts in situations such as this.
Citations : [1987 SCC 1 42], [1987 SCR 1 175], [1987 CRIMES SC 1 71], [1986 SCALE 2 745], [1987 AIR SC 3], [1986 JT 1 795], [1987 SCC CRI 13]
Other Sources :