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Tuesday 7 April 2020

Custody of child born out of live-in: A soldier’s travails

The ex-Army man filed a habeas corpus plea in Delhi High Court seeking custody of his minor daughter, born out of a live-in relationship

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New Delhi: An ex-Army man has failed to get the custody of his minor daughter, born out of a live-in relationship he had in Assam, as the Delhi High Court said it did not have the jurisdiction to entertain the plea.

The High Court said since the minor was born in Assam and is presently in the custody of her maternal grandmother and aunt, he can approach the Guwahati High Court for relief.

The former Army man has two children from his live-in partner who died in 2015 due to some serious complications during her third pregnancy.

A son born out of his live-in relationship resides with the man and his wife in Delhi.

A bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Brijesh Sethi said it was not inclined to entertain the petition for habeas corpus since the minor girl whose custody was sought resides in Guwahati beyond the territorial jurisdiction of this court.

The man visited his daughter in January along with his lawyer and asked for her custody which was declined by the minor’s relatives, his petition said and added that no action was taken by authorities even after he filed a police complaint.

Thereafter, he filed a habeas corpus plea in the Delhi High Court seeking custody of his minor daughter.

A habeas corpus petition is filed for producing before a court a person who is under arrest or in unlawful custody.

The man’s counsel submitted that this court ought to exercise its plenary power under Article 226 of the Constitution, and allow the habeas corpus petition, directing the girl’s relatives to handover her custody to him.

The bench said there can be no quarrel with the position in law that a habeas corpus petition seeking custody of a minor child is maintainable under Article 226 of the Constitution.

However, in this case, the court exercising territorial jurisdiction over the minor has to be the court where she ordinarily resides.

The court granted liberty to the man to approach the Guwahati High Court for relief.

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