Written by Shaurya Mahajan
Today, the Delhi High Court in the case of Kinri Dhir v Veer Singh held that a putative father is entitled to visitation rights of a minor child and that while granting such rights, the well-being of a child is of paramount importance.
The bench comprising of Justice V Kameswar Rao observed that there is no dispute that the child has a right to love and affection of both the parents and that this right supersedes the privileges of both the parents.
This was observed by the court while hearing a petition filed by the mother of a two-and-half-year-old boy in challenge of the order passed by the family court which had granted the boy’s putative father visitation rights for two hours daily.
The petition mentioned that the family court had given the visitation rights because the respondent (putative father) had admitted paternity of the minor child and that both the petitioner and the respondent were residing in the same premises although on different floors.
The petition claimed that these grounds were misconceived.
The petition contended that the trial court had disregarded the welfare of the child and that by permitting unsupervised access it had left it open for the respondent to take the child wherever he pleased in the two-hour window.
The counsel appearing for the petitioner argued that it was the stand of the respondent that the minor child is his illegitimate son and born out of wedlock. It was further contended that as he is the putative father who is not akin to biological father, preference should be given to the biological mother.
The counsel appearing for the petitioner contended that they have at no point in time disputed the paternity of the minor child and that the respondent is providing for all the child’s needs. It was also submitted that the respondent is a devoted father and it is the petitioner who is trying to extract huge sums of money from him even though he has been bearing all her expenses.
It was further contended that the sole purpose of the petition was to exclude the respondent from the life of the child.
The High Court, relying on the Supreme Court judgement in Amyra Dwivedi, said wherein a parent is not granted custody, he/ she shall be entitled to visitation rights and therefore, the question before it was whether the visitation rights granted in favour of the father were justified or not.
Justice Rao noted that the child’s ties with the father should not be completely and perpetually stopped. This is essential to ensure a healthy emotional quotient and robust psychological growth of the child, in the opinion of the court.
The judge modified the family court order directing that instead of daily visitation, the father will be allowed to visit the child on alternate weekdays for two hours between 6 pm and 8 pm.
On Sunday, the respondent will be allowed to pick up the child from his mother’s place at 11 am and return him at 5 pm. The putative father was also directed to ensure the safety of the child by ensuring adherence to all Covid protocols.
The Court further allowed him to talk to the child through video/audio call once a day for 10 minutes on days he is not visiting him personally.
With these directions, being given the petition was disposed of by the court.
Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra along with advocate Shivani Luthra Lohiya, Asmita Narula, Anubhav Singh and Priyanka Prasanth appeared for the petition.
Respondent was represented by Senior Advocate Rebecca M John, along with advocates Gauri Rishi, Manav Gupta, Srishti Juneja, Garima Sehgal, Sahil Garg, Ankit Gupta and Praavita Kashyap. Advs.