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TMCNet:  Internet a poor substitute for personal parent-child interaction: HC [Mumbai] [Times of India]

[January 06, 2014]

Internet a poor substitute for personal parent-child interaction: HC [Mumbai] [Times of India]

(Times of India Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) MUMBAI: Expressing deep anguish at a long standing custody battle between parents where a child has been having access with his mother only over the internet for over two years, the Bombay high court on Thursday granted access of her 12 year old son to a woman in Mumbai. The child currently living with his father in Lucknow has to be entrusted in to her care at the Mumbai family court premises on January 4 till January 12 for what was remaining of the Christmas vacation. "A few moments stolen from each day for a video call over the Internet are a poor substitute for a personal interaction," said Justice Patel adding, "I very seriously doubt that they can ever lead to the fostering and growth of a mother-child bond of the value, profundity and depth that is the prerogative of every child everywhere." The father of the child had moved the HC against an order passed by the Bandra family court in Mumbai on December 24. The family court had granted Christmas Vacation access to her of their minor son from January 1 to January 9. She was to appoint a suitable tuition teacher in mathematics and geography for him. The family court had permitted the father to speak with his son once every evening over the internet. The HC observed with dismay that the matter had a "very long, chequered, and truly unfortunate history." The parents have been litigating against each other for several years already. There are various proceedings filed in Mumbai and in Lucknow. The Family Court proceedings initially filed in Lucknow were transferred to the Family Court in Mumbai. Caught in the middle of this dispute between the husband and wife is their 12 year old son. He has never lived in Mumbai. His mother came to reside with her brother in Malad in 2010-11 after her marriage ran into trouble. Jsutice Patel said, "What I find singularly distressing is that Aryan is arrayed as a petitioner in some proceedings. Not only that, but it has also transpired that the minor's statement once came to be recorded by a Magistrate." The child said in one interview that he loves his mother but does not wish to travel to Mumbai. The lawyer for the child's father insisted that the wishes of the child must be considered and there was nothing the father could do. Justice Patel said, "I cannot accept such a submission. There is no doubt that the wishes of the child are important; but can they be said to be determinative in all situations and in all cases? There are many contexts in which an impressionable child, though not an infant but one who can be presumed to be reasonably sentient, might express a wish. But those are the wishes of a yet not fully formed mind, one that is susceptible to a variety of influences. It is certainly a consideration to be kept in mind; it cannot, however, bind the hands of a court." The judge also said that, "In the austerity and formality of a judicial order, it is difficult to express adequately the anguish in the mind and heart of a judge in matters such as these. Saying more at this stage might, perhaps, be either futile or counterproductive." However imploring the parents to be more sensible and sensitive to the child's needs, the judge said, "I can do no more than express a wish that both parents will observe this order in the spirit in which it is intended, and will abide by its terms. If ever there was a time when the respondent-mother needed the help of the father of her child, it is now. To deny her that aid would be unjust. She, too, must see this not as some sort of victory, but rather as a first small step and a beginning to a better tomorrow for their son. To the parents, then, I must make a request: to act in the spirit and letter of this order not because a court or a judge has ordered it, but because it is what their son needs, and deserves, for that is the true birth right of every child." The judge called for a report on January 10 to see how the child was faring.


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