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Supreme Court grants custody of minor to his grandparents

This case was for the custody of a 5-year-old boy who had lost both his parents in the COVID-19 pandemic. His grandparents had approached the High Court by filing a writ of Habeas Corpus. However, the High Court had granted the custody to the boy’s maternal aunt, who would not let the grandparents to come to the house or even meet their grandson.

Aggrieved by the decision, the grandparents had approached the Supreme Court. The Hon’ble Apex Court heard both sides and granted the custody to his grandparents.

The High Court has granted the custody to the maternal aunt on the basis that she is 46 years of age and has a stable government job. Further, she is unmarried and lives in a joint family. On the other hand, the grandfather of the child is 71 years old and a retired government employee. After comparing the situation, the High Court considered that it would be beneficial for the upbringing of the child if he lived with the maternal aunt.

However, the Supreme Court observed the above grounds are relevant but not germane. One cannot presume that the maternal aunt being young and financially stable, would take better care of the child than the grandparents. It was observed:

“One should not doubt the capacity and/or ability of the paternal grandparents to take care of their grandson. It is said that the grandparents love the interest rather than the principle. Emotionally also the grandparents will always take care better care of their grandson. Grand Parents are more attached emotionally with grandchildren………………… Being a retired person, the paternal grandparents would devote more time and take care of minor better than the maternal aunt who is serving in the government department. Income and/or the age and/or the bigger family cannot be the sole criteria to tilt the balance and not to give the custody of the grandson to the paternal grandparents.”

The Supreme Court held that if a balance is formed between the aunt and grandparents, it would certainly tilt in the favor of the grandparents. Even the minor has expressed his interest in living with his grandparents. However, while granting the custody, the Supreme Court observed that this decision does not question the ability of the maternal aunt to take proper care of the child. The decision will be subject to the final order of the proceedings under section 7 of the Guardians and wards act which is currently pending. The Hon’ble court requested the families to forget the past, act cordially and move forward for the sake of the child.

case: Swaminathan Kunchu Acharya vs State of Gujarat & Ors.

https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2022/17274/17274_2022_2_1_36139_Judgement_09-Jun-2022.pdf

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