SC seeks Centre’s response on shared parenting plan for spouses fighting Divorce battles

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A PIL was filed by a child rights NGO questioning the upbringing of child and custody in case of estranged parents. The Supreme Court on Monday sought response from the Centre on this plea seeking implementation of its parenting plan related to child custody cases for spouses who are fighting endless divorce litigations.

A bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and Sanjay Kishan Kaul issued notice to the Ministry of Law and Justice on the PIL filed by NGO ‘Child Rights Foundation’, seeking setting up of a committee to formulation and implementation of the ‘Parenting Plan’, prepared by the petitioner organization.

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The NGO, in its plea filed through lawyer Santosh Paul, has sought directions to all the family courts to grant “joint custody” of kids to estranged couples in the best interests of the child, as reported by Outlook India.

“Grant joint custody in the best interests of the child and further direct the family courts to treat the grant of shared parenting as a rebuttable presumption in the best interest of the child,” the NGO said.

The NGO, in its petition, has asked the court to issue directions for appointment of at least one child psychologist or clinical psychologist with training in child psychology in each Family Court.

It has further sought issuing guidelines to family courts to extricate the custody of a child from a custodial parent indulging in “Parental Alienation”, which refers to brainwashing of the child resulting in emotional rejection of the targeted parent.

“Declare Parental Alienation as a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India as it constitutes child abuse under Article 19 of United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child and disruption of ‘Right to Family Life’ under Article 17 and 23 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and issue guidelines to family courts to dislodge the custody from a custodial parent indulging in Parental Alienation,” the petition said.

The petition further sought to implement norms that can enforce “shared parenting”, which has also been recommended by Law Commission of India in its 257th report as a collaborative arrangement in child custody matters in which both parents have the right and responsibility of being actively involved in the raising of the child.

“It is proved through research that a child growing in a single parenting home suffers in life and the effects are like school dropout, teenage pregnancy, usage of drugs and end up with crime, hence the child needs both the natural parents access to have a normal upbringing and welfare,” said Kumar Jahgirdar, a child rights activist and the National President of ‘Children Right Initiative for Shared Parenting’.

He said the divorce is between the husband and the wife and the children bear the brunt as shared parenting is not followed in the country.

He said due to gender bias, fathers’ are allowed as mere visitor for one hour in courts.

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In August this year, Madras HC had also pointed out how Single parenting was dangerous to society. Justice N Kirubakaran made the observation on a contempt plea moved against the secretary of the Union ministry of women and child development for allegedly failing to comply with a direction issued by the court to check child abuse.

It has been noted in several cases as quoted by Mens Rights Activists, who do not wished to be named due to ongoing cases, that the custody of children is given to mothers by default due to physical requirements of the children in young age. As per them, it cannot be overlooked that the children get completely alienated from the other parent, the father, and in most cases the estranged wives end up fuelling children against the father.

The acceptance of this PIL by Supreme Court has raised a hope for all estranged fathers who are not allowed to meet with their children and end up being a mere Santa Claus going with gifts on their birthdays.

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