Delhi HC grants visitation rights to father despite Settlement Agreement to the contrary

December 04, 2018


Visitation rights were given to the father of a four-year-old girl by the Delhi High Court. This order was made despite the fact that there was a settlement agreement between the parents,  disallowing for any contact between her and her father.

While giving the said decision, emphasis and importance were given to the child being under the care and concern of both the mother as well as the father. Justice Najmi Waziri stated  “for a healthy emotional quotient and robust psychological growth of the child, the affection of both parents would be necessary. While the daughter will be in the custody of the mother, who in due course may restart a new married life, she would nevertheless be entitled to affection of both natural parents.”

He was of the view that the Settlement Agreement has negated all the daughter’s rights of interaction with and affection from her natural father and that such deprivation is likely to be to her detriment. “It would be in her overall interest to make provision for her access to her father. Her ties with the father should not be stopped for all times”

The husband (petitioner), represented by Advocate Sudershani Ray filed the current petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, seeking quashing of the proceedings initiated against him by his wife under Sections 498A/406/34 of the Indian Penal Code.

It was observed by the Court that the couple had been granted divorce by mutual consent in August 2018 and that the differences between them have been settled amicably by the Settlement Agreement. Taking note of the various precedents, the court allowed the husband's plea. It, however, noted that the Settlement Agreement did not grant any visitation rights to the father, who had the desire of meeting his daughter. It also asserted that the rights that a child has, are independent of the rights of the parents with reference to the settlement of disputes related to matrimonial ties.

The Court also highlighted the importance of affection from parents for the child and that the assurance of paternal protection must always be available to nurture the daughter in a “wholesome manner”.

In order to establish his bona fides, it was also offered by the father to deposit INR 4,000 per month in her Sukanya account maintained for her benefit. This deposit has been ordered to be made before the 15th of each month.

In view of the facts and circumstances of the case, and the developments thereafter, the Court ordered that the father and the daughter will be allowed to meet each other a minimum of two times a month, for four hours each, however, in the presence of the child counsellor.


 

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