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A Public Interest Litigation has been filed by a London based NRI Woman – Y Sulochana Rani – before the Supreme Court, seeking revisit of Country’s all personal laws with regard to the custody of child in matrimonial disputes.

On Friday, the three Judge Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Justice SA Bobde and Justice S Abdul Nazeer issued notice to Centre for response on the issue.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Union of India, told the bench that the issue needs to be examined.

Advocate Kaleeswram Raj, appearing for the Petitioner, submits that due to the absence of shared parentage system in India, the fundamental rights of the children are violated. The right to love and to be loved is recognised universally as a fundamental right and is to be protected in the interest of a child. When custody of a child is assigned to one parent, his/her well being is severely affected. It is pertinent to understand that affection of both parents is crucial for the all-round development of a child.

In furtherance to the aforesaid submissions, the Counsel for the Petitioner submitted that currently as per the various Personal laws, the custody of children is exclusively entrusted to one parent. As per the statutes, there is very strong presumption in favour of exclusive custody due to which the Fundamental Rights of the spouse and Fundamental Rights of the child severely get affected and therefore, such types of scheme require reformation.

The current PlL urges a child centric approach based on the idea of shared parenting. The Petition challenges the provisions of Hindu Minorities and Guardianship Act, Shariat Act, Guardians and Wards Act, etc which only allow for exclusive custody.

The petition seeks court’s declaration that denial of shared custody in matrimonial disputes other than in cases where it is not in the best interest of the child, would amount to violation of Fundamental Rights of the aggrieved parent as also the child under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

— India Legal Bureau

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