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FATHER’S CUSTODY RIGHTS IN INDIA

 The issue of ‘Child Custody’ crops up during divorce proceedings or judicial separation; it becomes an important issue to be decided by the courts. It refers to the process of controlling, caring and maintenance of the child less than 18 years of age by the custodial parent (the rights have been granted by court) under set parameters such as financial security, understanding with child, lifestyle, etc. The prime rights of nurturing the child with respect to education, development, medical, emotional, physical, etc. lies with the custodial parent while the non-custodial parent only holds the right to access and meet the child. In innumerable cases, both the parents are provided with access to the child, but the physical custody of the child is usually granted to one parent. The Family Courts while deciding on this need to keep the best interests of the child as of paramount importance.What is the Definition of Legal Custody?In a family law context, “Legal Custody” is a type of Child Custody that grants a parent the right to make important, long-term decisions regarding their child or children. This may include aspects of the child’s upbringing including:EducationMedical and dental careReligious upbringingFinancial decisionsTypes of Child Custody in India:-The Judiciary in India, in a number of innumerable judgments, has held the view that the best interest of the child in Child Custody cases, needs to be given utmost importance, surpassing all the legal provisions laid down. The court grants the right to child custody either to one or both the parents under certain rules and regulations. Evaluating the sensitivity in this matter, the Indian Law allows parents to seek Child custody as per its below mentioned forms, They are:Physical Custody: In physical custody, a child lives with the custodial parent and undertakes all the day to day activities.Joint Physical Custody: In joint physical custody the child lives with both the parents for a significant time period. In such a set-up, both the parents have equal rights on their child.Sole Custody: In Sole custody, the entire right to live with the child lies in the hands of one parent only. This often happens in cases where in the other parent is abusive, instable, violent or incapable in nature.Third Party Custody: In third party custody, none of the biological parents have any right on the child. Instead, the child custody is granted to the third person by the court. What the Legislation has a say about Child Custody?As per the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 the Hindu child below the age of 5 years shall be kept under the custody of the mother as till this age it is only the mother who can give proper emotional, moral as well as physical support to the child.The custody of a boy or an unmarried girl below the age of 18 years and above the age of 5 years shall be given to the father of the child as he is considered to be the natural guardian and only after his death, the custody shall be given to the mother.In case the child is illegitimate then the custody shall be with the mother itself.If the parents are not willing to take the custody of the child or if the court thinks that for the welfare of the child it would be better if he is not kept under the guidance of the parents then even a third person may be allotted the custody of a Hindu child. In this case usually, the grandparents are that paternal or maternal will be preferred to get the custody of that Hindu child if they are interested.If neither the parents nor any of the close relatives of the child are initiating to take the custody of the child then the court by itself shall find an appropriate person who could take the custody of the child.Which Parent Can Be Granted Legal Custody?At the present time, most courts attempt to grant both parents equal rights with regards to legal custody. This is to help the child interact with both parents rather than just one. However, in some cases, the court may grant only one parent legal custody. This is especially true where one of the parents is deemed unfit to make decisions on behalf of the child.When determining which parent should be granted legal custody, the courts may consider many different aspects, including:The parent’s mental, physical, and emotional ability to make legal decisions on behalf of another personThe relational history between the child and the parentWhether there has been any history of abuse, neglect, or other violationsThe arrangement between the parents regarding distribution of physical custodyWishes of the minor child, if he can form opinion on his own.Financial status of both the parents.As with any child custody decisions, legal custody determinations are made with the “best interests of the child” in mind. This means that the needs of the child take preference over any personal desires or intentions of either parent.Child Custody for Fathers: How can a Father Get Full Custody of His Child?When it comes to father custody rights, various questions can arise.Custody battles for fathers can sometimes be challenging. While most courts have discarded older notions that the mother is automatically the primary caregiver, many mothers and other persons in society still hold these types of notions, but there are some situation when a father can claim custody or even full custody of child by proving any of the following reasons given under. Father Gets the Custody In The Following Manner:-In India, it is believed that no one can be a better caregiver than a mother. Unfortunately, it is not true all the time.Though while giving the custody the mother is given the first priority, the father can get it by following ways:1.     If the mother is willing to give up the custody of the child, then the father may get custody.2.     If the mother is not mentally stable, the father is the next person to get custody of the child.3.     If the child is of 13 years or more and expresses his wish to stay with the father, the Court shall grant it to the father.4.     In case the mother is of an immoral character, which may affect the child as well, the father gets the custody.5.     If the father can prove the financial incapacity of the mother which shall in future affect the upbringing of the child and also prove his financial capability to take good care of the child. 6.     If the father can prove that the background of the mother has been in dark and that if the child will stay with the mother it will prove to be fatal to the upbringing of the child or shall affect his mental and physical growth. 7.     If the mother is a convict herself, the custody of the child shall thereafter go to the father. Although the above – mentioned points are few of which are used in the court to get custody. The same is not exhaustive and can vary depending from case to case on the basis of facts and circumstances.Can a Father Fight for Child Custody If He Is Not on the Birth Certificate?Whether or not a father’s name is listed on a birth certificatecan have significant impacts on their custody rights. In most cases, if the person’s name is listed as the child’s father on their birth certificate, courts will automatically conclude that they are the child’s legal father. They will then be granted various custody rights as the legal father of the child. In many cases, even if the person is not the child’s biological father, if their name is listed on the birth certificate as their father, courts may still grant them custody rights. They may also impose various duties on them, such as the duty to pay child support if this arises in the future. If the father’s name is not on the child’s birth certificate, they may often not be granted any custody rights over the child, whether partial or full custody. If they wish to gain legal rights, and they are the biological father of the child, they may need to undergo a paternity test to prove to the court that they are the biological father. CHILD CUSTODY LAWS:The law governing Child Custody cases in India, broadly, falls under following Act :-1.     Guardian and Wards Act, 18902.     Section 26 of Hindu Marriage Act,19553.     Hindu Adoption & Maintenance Act,19564.     Section 38 of Special Marriage Act, 19585.     Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 19566.     Custody Under Muslim Law7.     Custody Under Hindu Law PLACE WHERE CHILD CUSTODY CASE IS FILED:-Child custody cases are filed in the jurisdiction of the family court/competent court where minor child ordinarily resides. For example, father is living in Mumbai. Mother is living in Delhi along with minor child. If father wants to file Child Custody, he has to file the same only in Delhi. Thus, family court or concerned competent court shall have the exclusive jurisdiction over the child custody to the exclusion of all other courts.PROCEDURE TO FILE CHILD CUSTODY CASE:-A petition for child custody or declaration regarding appointment of natural or legal guardian of minor starts child with the filing of the petition by the spouse seeking child custody  application for Interim or Temporary custody as well as Visitation Rights.Custodial parent is required to give response to the petition following which evidence are led by both parents. After closure of evidence of by both parents and their respective witnesses, if any, follows with final arguments and consequent judgement.As stated above in certain situation and exigencies a writ petition under article 32 of the Constitution of India can be filed in the Supreme court or a write petition under article 226 of the Constitution of India can be filed. Key points:Child custody cases are emotionally taxing for parties, concerned counsels, as well as the Judge(s).Generally, the age of majority is eighteen years and in some cases it is twenty-one years.Nowadays courts often take the helps of experts such as counsellors, psychologist or other specialist dealing with issues of child custody.It is extremely interesting to note that all judgements that attain finality bound parties with the final outcome. However, the decision or the judgements of child custody cases are never final. It is a departure from the general law. To explain further, Custody of Child has been awarded by judgement or by mutual consent to one of the parent. However, the welfare of the child is prejudiced by the acts and omission of the custodial parent .CONCLUSION:-For a father, custody can be difficult to win, even though the courts do not discriminate against fathers. Whether you are a father going for full custody or joint custody,youshould be prepared for a difficult child custody battle,especially if the child's mother is also fighting for custody. Consider the following tips to help a father get custody.1.    Pay child support payments within time.2.    Build a strong relationship.3.    Give respect to the child and as well the mother.4.    Maintain accurate records.5.    Attend important school and social gatherings.6.    Make sure everything you are doing is for providing good life to your child.Children are mostly attached with their mothers, so when a father wants to have a custody or full custody he must think about his child’s wish and definitely what is good for their children’s life because custody battels are already traumatic and exhausting experience for a child to go through, so the first priority of a father should be to make sure that everything he is doing  for their children is to provide happiness and good life.

Posted By

Mrighankhi Chakraborty

1 month ago

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A Rape Covered Under The Veil Of Marriage

A Rape Covered Under The Veil Of Marriage By Ashish Ranjan Samal, Advocate Orissa High Court 1. Introduction Whenever Mahira, who is 25 years old, has a fight or a heated argument with her husband, he takes it out on her in the bed. She is merely a toy for him whom he can use differently every night. He forces himself on her, every single day, even during her periods. Their relationship has never been about 'consent' and 'equality'. Similarly, many women are subjected to dowry harassment and brutal rape which involves inflictions with torch lights leading to serious injuries. These are just a few examples out of the plethora of such cases. These women are all married and they have to go through such kind of violence and forced intercourse. Is a wife merely a tool to vent out sexual and emotional tension and frustration? Marital rape is an oxymoron. Yet marriage and rape have an unfortunate continued relationship in India. Both rape and marriage are considered ways of gaining control over a woman's body since time immemorial. This was also exemplified in the infamous Imrana rape case[1] where back in 2005, 28-year-old Imrana, a mother of five, was raped by her 69-year-old father-in-law. And the Panchayat (local council) declared her marriage to her husband as void since she had had sex with her father-in-law and by virtue of her physical relationship with her father-in-law she was also told to treat her own husband as her son. The dictionary meaning of the word "rape" is "ravishing or violation of a woman" which in its generic term "Raptus" implies violent theft, applied to both property and person. Rape is the word for forced or coerced sex. It is when the woman has not had the opportunity to freely give consent or she is unable to give consent. Marital rape is the non-consensual sex committed by the spouse. It is also known as partner rape or rape in marriage. 2. Indirect laws addressing Marital Rape Marriage in India is considered a holy sacrament between a husband and his wife. When a man marries a woman, it not only brings implied consent of sexual intercourse but also the man's duty to give due respect to the dignity of his wife. When the husband commits unwanted forceful intercourse with his wife, he breaks the confidence of his wife and breaches her trust in him. Lately, Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code i.e. the anti-dowry law is voluminously misused by the women and a considerable number of rape cases reported each year are also false. Proving marital rape and taking bedrooms to courtrooms in such cases is not only a difficult but also a dangerous idea.[2] As per the Indian penal legislation i.e., Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code- "Sexual intercourse" or "sexual acts" by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape." [3] Exception to Section 375[4] of IPC provides immunity to the husband who rapes his wife and declares marital rape as legal and does not consider it as rape. This shows that the concept of marital rape goes beyond the virtues of Article 21[5] of the Constitution of India i.e. right to live with human dignity. Marital rape prima facie violates Article 14[6] of the Constitution as it creates a classification between married and unmarried women and denies equal protection of the criminal legislation to the former.[7] Though marital rape violates basic human rights that are attributed to every human being under the purview of these Articles there are not many remedies available to the victim. Therefore, in India, marital rape can come under cruelty clauses of section 498A of IPC. Cruelty covers physical and mental harassment. Punishment is imprisonment for a maximum period of three years with fine. The remedies for cruelty under the Indian Penal Code take years to reach an outcome. In view of this, victims remain victims. They either give in, or give up. Another remedy available to the wife is under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 which deals with protection of women from physical and mental cruelties of all forms, including sexual abuse. Family Courts as well as Magistrates provide counseling to the husband under domestic violence laws. But unfortunately, the provisions of this Act provide civil remedies only and a wife who wants to see her husband (rapist) punished finds no solution to that. Instead she is the one who struggles and suffers especially if she has children or is financially dependent or is without family support. The only lasting solution to the problem of marital rape is legal separation or annulment of the marriage itself. A legally separated wife can only file a complaint for rape against her husband under Section 376A[8] of IPC.[9] 3. Startling Statistics Marital rape is both common and an un-reported crime. A study conducted by the Joint Women Programme - an NGO, found that one out of seven married women had been raped by their husbands at least once. They frequently do not report these rapes because the law does not support them.[10] According to the UN Population Fund, more than two-thirds of married women in India, aged 15 to 49 years, have been beaten, or forced to provide sex.[11] Bertrand Russell in his book Marriage and Morals saw marriage as one of the most conventional forms of livelihood for a woman where the frequency of undesired intercourse she has to give in to is in all probabilities higher than that endured by a prostitute. [12] ?till the problem of marital rape has received very little attention from the activists, criminal justice system and the society at large. The concept of rape in marriage got recognition only after 1970s. The right of a husband to have sexual intercourse with his wife was considered to be one of the most natural implications of the contract of marriage.[13] International Instruments Article 2 of the Declaration of the Elimination of Violence against Women includes marital rape explicitly in the definition of violence against women.[14] Also the unanimous resolution at the UN conference in Beijing, September 1995 guarantees every woman the right to say no to sex as she wishes, specifically wives. In accordance with these Declarations and Conferences many countries have either enacted marital rape laws, repealed marital rape exceptions or have laws that do not distinguish between marital rape and ordinary rape. These States include Albania, Algeria, Australia (in 1991), Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mauritania, Mauritius (in 2007), New Zealand (under Crimes Act, 1961), Norway, the Philippines, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden, Taiwan, Tunisia, the United Kingdom (in 1991), the United States, and recently, Indonesia, Thailand (in 2007), Turkey (in 2005).[15] In England and Wales, the House of Lords held in 1991 that the status of married women had changed beyond all recognition. Lord Keith, compared a marriage of the modern times with a partnership of equals where the wife is no longer the subservient chattel of the husband.[16] 4. Rethinking of the existing law In India, the 42nd Law Commission Report (1972) suggested that marital rape should be criminalized. However, actions were not taken to that effect and the 84th Report (1980) was not in favour of the criminalization. In the year 1996 the Supreme Court of India in Bodhisattwa Gautam v. Subhra Chakraborty[17] classified rape as a crime against the basic human rights and a violation of the victim's most cherished of fundamental rights, namely, the right to life enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution. However, the Apex Court negated this very pronouncement by not recognizing marital rape.[18] This shows that the Indian courts as well as the law makers have made recommendations and pointed out the need for penalising marital rape several times. Still there has not been any substantial change in this field. 5. The gray areas There are a lot of loopholes in the Indian legal system when it comes to marital rape. It not only provides immunity to the rapist husband but is also silent with regard to a lot of questions. For example, there are no provisions to deal with the cases of rape which are committed by the husband in collusion with a third person or if rape is committed by both the husband and a third person. Whether the third person will only be punished for rape, or whether the husband, would escape punishment for marital rape owing to his relationship with the victim are some of the many questions which the law has failed to adequately answer.[19]  The honourable High Court of Delhi has rightly pointed out in the case of Meena & Anr. v. State & Anr.[20] on 17 October, 2012 where the Court observed that if a girl who is not the wife of the man but is below 16 years of age (15 as per the Criminal Law Amendment 2013) then even the consensual intercourse between the two amounts to rape. But if the girl is above 16 years and is wife of the man, then even the forced intercourse is not rape. This provision in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 is a specific illustration which shows that the legislature has legitimized the concept of child marriage by keeping a lower age of consent for marital intercourse. 6. The deep scars left from the crime Marital rape causes both mental as well as physical trauma which has severe and long-lasting consequences on women. The immediate physical and gynaecological effects of marital rape include injuries to private organs, lacerations, soreness, bruising, torn muscles, fatigue, vomiting, miscarriages, stillbirths, bladder infections. It may also lead to infertility and HIV. Rape in marriage has a lot of long-lasting psychological consequences also. It causes anxiety, shock, intense fear, depression, sleep problems, suicidal ideation, etc. [21] 7. Conclusion The concept of marital rape is an oxymoron. It is a rape under the veil of marriage. Marriage is not a licence for sex. Just because a woman says "I do" to marriage it does not mean that she has said "I do" to sex whenever, wherever, and however her husband wants it. Sex is not an implied 'right' under the contract of marriage rather it is a clear communication of love, mutual consent, caring and respect between husband and wife. A recent incident of gang rape and murder of a student on a bus in Delhi in 2012 led to a mass outcry. This outrage took place when the girl was raped by strangers. Had she been raped by her husband, would it have the same effect? If rape is the violation of human rights then it would continue to be a violation whether committed by her husband or a stranger. The dignity of women either married or unmarried is alike. She cannot be considered as a property or the subservient chattel of the husband In today's scenario we require generation of awareness along with judicial awakenings. What really needs to be done is to teach both boys and men to not rape and educate them to view women as valuable partners in every aspect of life.

Posted By

ASHISH SAMAL

1 month ago

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Mohd Imran

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Hi everybody, I have passed my BA.LLB drgree in 2015 with distinction from MDU Rohtak and got enrolled with the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana. Thereafter i joined practice as an advocate and also did my LLM through evening classes from MDU Rohtak. I believe in honesty and hard work View Full Profile
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Sunil Kumar Bakshi

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Advocate Sunil Kumar Bakshi has been practicing and handling cases Independently with a result oriented approach, both professionally and ethically and has now acquired excellent professional experience in providing legal consultancy and advisory services. www.bakshiandassociates.com View Full Profile
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