Delhi HC asks Ministry to frame guidelines for children suffering in marital disputes

An NGO ‘Art of Learning Foundation’ filed a writ petition in the interest of all those children who are facing antagonizing situations in the courts due to matrimonial disharmony between their parents.

The PIL focuses on those innocent children who are wrested away by one parent from the other and are used as tools of revenge, vindictiveness and vengeance by the parent having the custody and control over the children. It further states that it is the fundamental right of a child to get the love of both the parents. Even in the cases of child custody the paramount importance is given to ‘child welfare’.

The PIL seeks that the Ministry of Law and Justice should formulate guidelines for expeditious resolution of matters involving interim child visitation, child custody, and maintenance so that the children do not become a victim of delayed court proceedings in the legal battle between her/ his parents.

The bench hearing the petition headed by Justice Gita Mittal has directed the NGO to place before it “suggested guidelines upon consideration of the standing guidelines which are in place in different states in India on the issue raised in this petition”.

The PIL seeks to fill these drawbacks:

  • Absence of guidelines with regard to the matters involving custody, care and visitation rights.

  • Dichotomous & extremely variable orders being passed for identical situations on the basis of the personal perception and arbitrary discretion exercised by the individual judicial officers,

  • Non cognizance of the lifelong adverse impact on the emotional quotient, stability and welfare of the children on account of alienation & separation from one of their parents on account of the inordinate delay in adjudication of the child custody and visitation petitions (both interim and final), thus necessitating a minimum mandatory period for adjudication of such applications.

  • Urgent requirement of formulation of guidelines that shape the judicial officers’ approach rather than the current subjective approach adopted by the courts in matters involving children.

  • Need for guidelines for conduct of proceedings prohibiting slanderous allegations in the open court and/or within the hearing of minor children or third parties.

  • Need for cognizance of the alienation undergone by the separated parent as well as his side of the extended family, who suffer great trauma on account of the separation.
  • Urgent need for guidelines, which includes mandatory psychotherapy of the child and the psychologists be appointed under the Family Courts for due scrutiny and regular family counselling and which also may be assigned for the entire family that includes regular assessment of the parents and their behaviour towards the child and other aspects of the caregiving process as required for a nurturing development of the child.

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