Mere hesitation on child’s part no ground to deny visitation rights to parent

Delhi High Court: Hearing an appeal against the Family Court’s order granting only an  hour every month as visitation rights to the appellant father, the Court observed that mere hesitation on the child’s part to meet either of the parent should not be a ground to deny proper access to the spouse in question. It is trite that it is always in the interest of a child to bond with both parents notwithstanding the parents being estranged.

Terming the visitation right as illusory, the appellant was aggrieved by the impugned order wherein the learned Judge had noted that during his interaction with the child he found the child completely hesitant to be with his father.

The Division Bench comprising of Pradeep Nadrajog and Pratibha Rani, JJ. observed that the learned Judge ought not to have rushed through the matter in a casual manner. One interaction with the child was not enough. If a child is hesitant to be with a parent, it is duty of the Presiding Judge of the Family Court to have the child counselled with the help of the counsellors attached to the Court. Every effort has to be made to counsel both parents to spare the child the agony of their separation. The parents have to be counselled to keep the child out of the litigation and in turn encourage the child to meet the other spouse. This process of breaking the ice thought slow and cumbersome, has to be followed. Meaning thereby, if a Judge of a Family Court finds a child hesitant to meet either parent, it should not be the ground to deny proper access to the spouse in question.

The Court directed the Family Court to refer the parents to the counsellors attached to the Court to try to reach a compromise. Till a resolution takes place, as an interim measure the Court directed the appellant be granted access to the child on fortnightly basis. The meeting would be initially either in the counsellors’ room attached to the Family Court Complex or in the children room. If the counsellors find the child comfortable with the father  and the situation improves, the ultimate endeavour would be for the child to spend six to eight hours every week with his father. Disposing of the appeal, the appellant’s application under Section 12 of the Guardians and Wards Act was directed to be taken up afresh by the Family Court.  [Aditya Mahajan v. Shachi Mahajan,  2016 SCC OnLine Del 5056 , decided on September 1, 2016]

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