The Karnataka High Court on July 3, 2019, in the case of M.V. Krishna Murthy v. Sri Arun .C has observed that parents rather than the grand parents are the best guardians of a minor child, particularly when there is no reason or impediment, legal or otherwise, coming in the way of handing-over of permanent custody of the minor child to the father.
Holding this view a Bench comprising of Justice B.V. Nagarathna and Justice K. Natarajan directed the maternal grand-parents to hand over custody of a minor child to her father, but disallowed the father to become a legal guardian to her property.
The Bench said: "Howsoever affectionate the maternal grand-parents may be and they may take every care to bring up the child, the same cannot be a substitute for the father (parents), bringing up the daughter."
"We are not disregarding the right of maternal grand-parents to have company of the minor child but in our view the parents rather than the grandparents are the best guardians of a minor child, particularly when there is no reason or impediment, legal or otherwise, coming in the way of handing over of permanent custody of child to her father. We also find that any delay in granting permanent custody of the child to the father would only create a distance in the relationship, between the father and the daughter. One cannot under-estimate the role of parents, particularly the father in the life of a daughter,” the Bench added.
The minor and her parents had met with a road accident in 2014. The mother had died on the spot, while the father suffered several injuries. On request of the maternal grand-parents, the minor was allowed to stay with them, by the father.
Later, due to differences between them, the father moved an application before the Family Court, for permanent custody under the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890. The court passed an order ex-parte, as the maternal grand-parents, did not appear before the court nor did they produce the minor girl.
Grand-father submitted before the High Court that "It may not be in the interest of the minor child to stay with her father, who has since married, the environment in the household may not be conducive for the child. The father of the child may not have financial capacity to educate her as she is presently studying in a prime (reputed) school, in Bengaluru."
Opposing the petition, father submitted that, "He is none other than the father of the child and he has financial capacity to educate her and bring her up in the best possible manner and that grand-parents may not have any apprehension in this regard."
Hearing both the parties the Bench said "The void created by the death of the mother of the child, though is an important factor in the mind of the maternal grand-parents, who seem to fulfill that void by bringing up the child, this court at the same time must also take into consideration that void on account of the death of biological mother, would be erased by child having a mother in the form of a second wife of the father. We are satisfied that the father and his second wife would look after child and bring her up in the best possible manner."
The court considering the feelings of the maternal grand-parents, recognized their visitation rights. It said "Appellant and his wife are at liberty to meet grand-daughter, once a month or as and when child request. This liberty is reserved with them despite there being no claim made by them in that manner before the family court. However, the appellant and his wife shall not meet the child in the educational institution. As far as holidays and festivals are concerned there can be mutual arrangement…”