Prolonged custody battles between parents aren't pleasant for anyone — not the embittered ex couple, not the children, not even the judges who are tasked with deciding which parent has to stay away from their children.
In a recent case, a two-member bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan of the Supreme Court (SC) used a unique yardstick while ruling in the mother's favour.
They examined the children's — a 14-year-old boy and 10-year-old girl — school report cards and found that their grades were much better when they stayed with their mother. Given the remarkable improvement in their academic performance while in their mother's care, the SC awarded her the primary custody, setting aside the Bombay High Court's (HC) order, reported Times Of India.
Reportedly, the couple, married for 15 years, had split after the woman walked out on her husband, alleging mental and physical cruelty. The children remained with the father, but the couple had been locked in a legal battle for a long time.
Initially, the children moved in with the mother after a sessions court interacted with the children and rejected the husband's plea for custody. But in February 2016, the Bombay HC ruled in favour of the father and asked the mother to return the children to him. She then appealed in the SC.
It is not exactly clear how the children came to be in the mother's custody again. While the father claims that she did not return them home after a court-permitted visit, the mother's contention is that the father had sent them to stay with her due to their son's abysmal marks in his Class IX exams. He claims that he didn't want their son to fail in class and lose a year, so he had sent them to her so she could teach him.
While setting aside the Bombay HC judgement, Justice Sikri, writing the judgement, said, "After the children came to stay with the mother... the son's academic performance improved significantly. He is getting very high grades... In fact, academic performance of the daughter has also gone up. This factor, though noticed by the HC, has been brushed aside with the observation that if the children were not doing well earlier, blame cannot be put on the father as it could be the result of the disputes between the parents. In the process, what is ignored is that, in spite of the dispute still existing, the academic performance of the children, while in their mother's custody, has gone up tremendously."
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