Mother moves SC seeking safe return of daughter



A woman, fighting a legal battle with her estranged husband for the custody of children, has moved the Supreme Court seeking safe return of her daughter from the USA as the case is still pending in a Mumbai family court.

The woman expressed her fear that if her daughter failed to return to India her custody petition would become infructuous. At present, her daughter is in India.

The woman, a Thai national settled in India after marriage in 1995, said she had no objections to her daughter's visit to the USA, but requested the court to impose a condition to ensure her return to the country.

She has challenged the June 19 Bombay High Court order, which allowed her estranged husband to send the daughter to the USA, on the ground of not imposing sufficient conditions, including non-mention of journey dates.

A Bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, has asked her estranged husband to file response to the plea.

The woman, in her plea, said the Bombay High court order had violated the Supreme Court's terms and conditions that stated that in case of children travelling to a foreign country, the estranged couple would have to mention the dates of departure and return to ensure their return to the country.

But the Bombay High Court did not impose any conditions to ensure her daughter's safe return, said senior advocate Santosh Paul and lawyer Sreenath, the woman's counsel.

She also said her estranged husband had not taken permission from her daughter's school and in the absence that her admission might get cancelled and that would open a window for the father to admit her into an US school and defeat her custody petition.

She told the top court her daughter would turn 16 in December, the legal age of consent in the USA. The daughter held American citizenship.

"The Bombay High Court has erred in imposing unequal and insufficient terms and condition on the Respondent No. 6 (husband) for travel of the daughter and her return," the petitioner said.

"The Bombay High Court failed to appreciate that the petitioner is fighting for the custody of her daughter for seven years and that it is important for courts to ensure her safe return to India, especially since the eldest child is already studying in the USA and that their uncle is in Bermuda."

She has also cited an apex court judgement, which allowed her to take the son to Thailand in December 2018 on the condition that she would provide dates of departure and return within two weeks.

At that time, the woman had told the court her father, suffering from a rare disease, wanted to see the grandchildren.

She also told the court her daughter's interim custody was given to her, but her husband had taken her in his custody, violating the court's order. She also blamed her estranged husband for delaying the proceedings by not co-operating and violating the court's order to expedite the trial.