R.G. Ketkar, J.
1. Heard learned counsel for the parties. Rule. By consent rule is made returnable forthwith and matter is taken up for hearing and final disposal.
2. Every child is special and minor child ?Ali? is no exception. The controversy in this petition relates to custody of Ali. By this petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India, the petitioners have inter alia prayed for dismissal of Petition No.D75 of 2008 filed by first respondent herein before Family Court at Bandra, Mumbai; for a writ of habeas corpus directing the first respondent to produce the minor child Ali before this Court and further directing him to hand over the custody of the said minor child to the petitioners in compliance of the orders dated November 20, 2007, August 5, 2008 and October 3, 2008, passed by the Court of Law in Australia with the permission to take the minor child Ali to Australia; for taking cognizance of the illegal acts of the first respondent and passing appropriate directions to the police or to the second respondent-State of Maharashtra, to initiate appropriate criminal action against the first respondent for abduction of child Ali and ensure that the first respondent hands over the custody of the child to the petitioners.
3. The first petitioner is a divorcee of the first respondent and mother of child Ali. The second petitioner is the mother of the first petitioner. The petitioners are citizens of Australia permanently residing at 2, Delvin Place, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2650, Australia. Somewhere in 2004, the first respondent had moved to New South Wales Australia as on a student visa to do his masters from Charles Strut University, Wagga Wagga, N.S.W. The first petitioner and the first respondent, sometime in January,2005 met through common friends. After few months of the relationship, the first petitioner became pregnant out of her relationship with the first respondent. It is the case of the first petitioner that first respondent suggested to her to abort the pregnancy which she declined.
4. It is the case of the petitioners that first respondent agreed to marry the petitioner No.l so as to facilitate the first respondent in securing Australian citizenship. The petitioner No.l and respondent No.l got married on July l6, 2005 at New South Wales, Australia in accordance with the Marriage Act l96l and not as per Muslim Personal Law and the said marriage was solemnized before Marriage Celebrant. Copy of the marriage certificate is enclosed at Exhibit A to the petition. It is further contended that the first petitioner did not convert herself to the Muslim faith and continued to practice her own faith ie Anglican religion.
5. On September 1, 2005, a son named Ali was born at NSW Australia. Ali is Australian citizen having Australian pass port M8500671. It is alleged by the petitioners that the first respondent displayed violent behaviour and subjected the first petitioner to severe mental and physical torture. At times, the first petitioner was required to take help of the local police for controlling the first respondent and on some occasions, the first petitioner was required to be taken to local Wagga base hospital. Even after the birth of Ali, first respondent did not change his attitude and sometime in December, 2005 after argument with the first petitioner, first respondent had taken his anger out on Ali by blowing cigarette smoke on his face whilst he was asleep.
6. The first respondent filed divorce petition being file No.(P)AYC 379/2007 before Family Court of Australia. By consent of the parties, order was passed on December l2, 2007 granting divorce between the parties with effect from January 13, 2008. Upon application to the Court of Federal Magistrate, it was ordered by consent and pursuant to part l0.4 of the Family Law Rules. Orders declaration and notations were made in terms of the consent order signed by the parties dated November 20, 2007. The consent order inter alia provided that the parents have equal share parental responsibility of the child Ali, as more particularly set out therein. Attachment A to the consent terms provided for parenting orders, obligations, consequences and who can help. In terms of the settlement dated August 5, 2008, the first petitioner consented to the first respondent taking the child Ali on holiday to Mumbai in India to enable the child to have a benefit of visiting the first respondent?s parents and relatives with departure date leaving Australia on September l7, 2008 and return date to Australia being September 27, 2008. Terms of settlement were signed by first petitioner and her Solicitor as also first respondent and his Solicitor on August 5, 2008. Clause l0 thereof provided as under:
At the end of the trip, the parties shall resume the same pattern as currently exists in relations to the time spent by the child with each other of the parties as set out in the orders that have been made by consent by the Federal Magistrate Court at Canberra in proceedings No.AYC379 of wp5092007.
7. It is the case of the petitioners that on reaching India, the first respondent forcibly abducted the child from the custody of the petitioner No.2 and refused to allow her to take back child to Australia. Access to the child was denied to the petitioners and they were also prevented from communicating with the child in any manner. The first respondent brought the child to India by perpetrating fraud on the Court of Australia and wrongfully and forcibly detained and confined the child with him in violation and contempt of the orders passed by the Court of Australia. The first respondent malafide filed petition No D75 of 2008 in the Family Court at Bandra, Mumbai under section 9 of the Guardians and Wards Act, l890 for guardianship of minor child Ali as also for custody. The child in question is Australian citizen with Australian passport and ordinarily resides at Australia. It is their contention that having regard to section 9 of the said Act, the Family Court will have no jurisdiction to entertain and try the petition filed by the first respondent or any application filed thereunder. The petitioners have also contended that the issue regarding custody of minor child Ali was heard and decided by the competent court in Australia and operates as res judicata as contemplated u/s 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (for short called as ?C.P.C.?). The decision of the competent court of Australia is conclusive as the issue of custody of minor child was directly involved in the proceeding between the same parties and the same was adjudicated upon by the competent Court of Australia. The judgment of Australian Court is having binding force as contemplated u/s l3 of the C. P. C. The petitioners also asserted fraud played by the respondent No.1 and that he is in contempt of the orders passed by the competent Court in Australia. The petitioners also asserted about the financial capacity of the first petitioner, love, affection and emotional support the petitioner No.2 has towards Ali. The first petitioner and her partner Tony Alexander are having their two years son Dante. The petitioners have set out the income derived by the first petitioner as also by Tony Alexander. On these and among other grounds the present petition is instituted under Article 227 of the Constitution of India on or about February 27, 2009.
8. The first respondent has filed affidavit in reply dated March 14, 2009, resisting the petition. Several preliminary objections have been raised which need not be set out in detail at this juncture. In substance, the first respondent has come out with the case that the first petitioner and her father do not have any fixed job or work in Australia. The petitioner No.2 works as Cleaning Lady at Air Force Quarters. The petitioner No.2 and father of the petitioner No.l have filed for bankruptcy at Australia. The first respondent has also highlighted the conduct and behavior of first petitioner as regards going to wild parties and getting drunk. He also made reference to passing of Apprehending Violence Order (A.V.O.) by Australian Court. It is contended by him that he completed his studies and returned to India permanently in the interest and welfare of son Ali. He had no alternative but to submit consent order dated August 5, 2008, passed by Family Court at Australia. His intention has always been to permanently reside in Mumbai (India) and the child Ali came to India not on a tourist visa but on a XV Visa bearing No.AF484725 for a period of one year during which time he expects to get Indian citizenship for Ali.
9. It is further asserted by the first respondent that the divorce between first petitioner and the first respondent was effective from January l3, 2008. During the subsistence of their marriage, first petitioner gave birth to a boy Dante on December 13, 2006, out of relationship and not marriage. It is further contended that before divorce from him the first petitioner was pregnant with her twins which she eventually delivered on September 9, 2008 again out of relationship. It is alleged that first petitioner is not married to the father of twins as well as father of boy Dante. The first respondent also relied upon purported writing given by first petitioner signifying her no objection for child Ali applying for passport and travelling to India with his father (first respondent herein). The first respondent also relied upon purported writing given by second petitioner on September 22, 2008.
10. The petitioners filed affidavit in rejoinder dated March l7, 2009 and reiterated the contentions raised in the petition. The petitioners denied that the second petitioner and the father of first petitioner have filed bankruptcy at Australia as alleged by first respondent. It is further asserted that the first petitioner and the first respondent separated in December,2005 and first petitioner entered into relations with Tony Alexander and has three children with said Tony Alexander namely i) Dante Alexander, ii) Brooklyn Alexander and iii) Natalia Alexander. The first petitioner has formed permanent relationship with Tony Alexander and they intend to marry. The petitioners have denied writing purportedly given by second petitioner on September 22, 2008. As far as no objection given by first petitioner applying for passport and travelling for India, it is contended that the said writing is to be read with the consent order dated August 5, 2008 and the hand written note and date thereon is not admitted by the petitioners.
11. The first respondent has filed further affidavit dated March, 25, 2009 wherein he has relied upon the declaration of bankruptcy of the second petitioner and her husband. It is asserted that the second petitioner and her husband are undischarged bankrupt. The first respondent relied upon the Social Networking Site (face book), showing photographs of the first petitioner with various male strangers, who according to first respondent are more than ?friends?. It is asserted that the first respondent is living with his father, grand mother, and paternal aunt. There are three lady members in his house and his father has retired.
12. The first respondent has further filed additional affidavit contending that he has obtained police and hospital records against first petitioner through his friend which has been annexed to his affidavit.
13. The petitioners have responded to the said affidavit by filing further affidavit. In the additional affidavit, reliance is placed upon Rule l5.27 of the Family Law Rule 2004 for the purpose of contending that the use of documents produced pursuant to subponea is for the purpose of case only and the contents of the documents or copies thereof shall not be disclosed to any person without the Court permission. In the instant case, no such permission was obtained from the Court by the first respondent while producing documents alongwith affidavit. The contentions raised by the first respondent about procuring documents pertaining to police record and hospital record against the first petitioner is totally vague and deliberately the first respondent did not disclose the name of the so called friend. The first respondent has filed further affidavit denying the contentions raised in the affidavit made by the petitioners.
14. We have heard Mr. J.P. Sen, instructed by Shri. Dinesh Pednekar & Mr. Vatsal Shah, on behalf of the petitioners and Mr. Mukesh M Vashi for the first respondent and Mr. V.B. Konde Deshmukh learned APP for the state.
15. At the time of hearing of the petition, Shri.Sen, learned counsel for the petitioners did not press the prayer (a) of the petition namely for dismissal of petition No.D75 of 2008, filed by first respondent before Family Court at Bandra, Mumbai and restricted the petition regarding issue of writ of habeas corpus and handing over the custody of minor child Ali to the petitioners.
16. The first respondent has raised preliminary objections to the maintainability of the present petition. Firstly, it is contended that in so far as prayer (a) of the petition is concerned, by that prayer the petitioners prayed for dismissal of the petition filed by respondent No.l before Family Court, Bandra at Mumbai. For the said relief, the petitioners will have to file the writ petition on the Civil Side. As already indicated the petitioners have not pressed the said prayer. Secondly, the petitioners have instituted the petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India and have not invoked the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Finally, it is contended that the petitioners have an equal efficacious alternate remedy and the petitioners cannot maintain writ petition for issue of writ of habeas corpus. This submission is on the premise that even if we treat this petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the petitioners have an equal efficacious alternate remedy. We are not impressed by any of the preliminary objections raised by the first respondent. For the reasons to follow hereinafter, we reject the preliminary objections and hold that the present petition is maintainable. The learned counsel for the petitioners relied upon the following judgments:-
i) Gohar Begum vs Suggi, AIR 1960 S.C. 93.
ii) Smt SurinderKaur Sandhu vs Harbax Singh and anr, (l984) 3 S.C.C. 698.
iii) Mrs. Elizabeth Dinshaw vs Arvand M Dinshaw and anr, (l987) l S.C.C 42.
iv) Kamla Devi vs State of Himachal Pradesh and ors, AIR 1987, HIMACHAL PRADESH 34.
v) Dhanwanti Joshi vs Madhav Unde, (1998), 1 S.C.C. 112,
vi) Sarita Sharma vs Sushil Sharma, AIR 2000 S.C. 1019.
vii) Gaurav Nagpal vs Sumedha Nagpal , AIR 2009 S.C. 557,
17. Referring to the judgment of Apex Court, in the case of Gohar Begam (supra), reliance is placed on paragraph 7 of the judgment to contend that the first respondent has no legal rights whatsoever to the custody of minor child. The first respondent has stealthily brought the child to India. He has abducted the child. He has acted contrary to the orders passed by the competent court of Australia. In fact he has committed contempt of orders of Austrian Court. Our attention was invited to the following observations of Lord Campbell C.J. In R. V. Clarke (l857) 7 El & Bl l86, 119 ER 1217,
?But with respect to a child under guardianship for nurture, the child is supposed to be unlawfully imprisoned when unlawfully detained from the custody of the guardian; and when delivered to him, the child is supposed to be set at liberty?
18. Reliance is placed on the said judgment to contend that a writ of habeas corpus can be pressed into service for granting custody of a child to the deserving spouse. In paragraph, l3 of the Judgment in Gohar Begum (supra), the Apex Court observed as under,
?it is further well established in England that in issuing a writ of habeas corpus a court has power in the case of infants to direct its custody to be placed with a certain person. In R. v. Greenhil (1836) 4 Ad & El 624 at p 640 111 ER 922 at p. 927, Lord Denman, C.J. Said, ?When an infant is brought before the Court by habeas corpus, if he be of an age to exercise a choice, the Court leaves him to elect where he will go. If he be not of that age and a want of direction would only expose him to dangers or seductions, the Court must make an order for his being placed in proper custody. See also (1857) 7 EL & BL 186 119 ER, 1217, In Halsbury?s Law of England Vol ix, Art.1201 at page 702, it is said,
?Where as frequently occurs in the case of infants, conflicting claims for the custody of the same individual are raised, such claim may be enquired into on the return to a writ of habeas corpus, and the custody awarded to the proper person?.
19. The petitioners rely upon the judgment of Kamladevi (supra) for the purpose of contending nature and purpose of jurisdiction and in particular paragraph 11 thereof, which reads thus:
?It is well established that in issuing the writ of Habeas Corpus in the case of infants the jurisdiction which the Court exercises is an inherent jurisdiction as distinct from a statutory jurisdiction conferred by any particular provision in any special statute. In other words, the employment of the writ of Habeas Corpus in child custody cases is not pursuant to, but independent of, statute. The jurisdiction exercised by the Court rests in such cases on its inherent equitable powers and exerts the force of the State, as parens patriae, for the protection of its in fact ward, and the very nature and scope of the inquiry and the result sought to be accomplished call for the exercise of the jurisdiction of a court of equity. The primary object of a habeas corpus petition, as applied to infants, is to determine in whose custody the best interests of the child will probably be advanced. In a Habeas Corpus proceeding brought by one parent against the other for the custody of their child, the Court has before it the question of the rights of the parties as between themselves, and also has before it, if presented by the pleadings and the evidence, the question of the interest which the State, as Parens Patriae, has in promoting the best interests of the child. The following passages at Pages 249, 280 and 281, paras 99, l48, and l49) extracted from and the cases cited in footnotes l0, l4 and l9 at pages 280 and 281 of the American Jurisprudence. Vol.39, Second Edition, make this position clear:
Where the writ is availed of for the latter purpose to determine controversies concerning the right to custody of the infant), the proceedings partakes of the incidents of a suit in equity and is considered to be one in rem the child being the res..........The Court in passing on the writ in a child custody case, deals with a matter of an equitable nature, it is not bound by any mere legal right of parent or guardian, but is to give his or her claim to the custody of the child due weight as a claim founded on human nature and generally equitable and just.......in short the child?s welfare is the supreme consideration, irrespective of the rights and wrongs of its contending parents, although the natural rights of the parents are entitled to consideration.
An application by a parent through the medium of a habeas corpus proceeding, for custody of a child is addressed to the discretion of the Court, and custody may be withheld from the parent where it is made clearly to appear that by reason of unfitness for the trust or of other sufficient causes the permanent interests of the child would be sacrificed by a change of custody...
Habeas corpus is a summary proceeding and, as applied to infants its primary object is to determine in whose custody the best interests of the child will probably be advanced.
The Considerations Which Must Weigh with the Court in Awarding Actual Custody?.
20. The preliminary objection raised by the first respondent about maintainability of the writ petition on the ground that the petitioners have equally efficacious alternate remedy is without any substance and is answered by the judgment of Apex Court, in case of Gohar Begum (supra) and Kamladevi (supra). We are treating the present petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. We, accordingly overrule the preliminary objections raised by the first respondent.
21. The Petitioners also relied upon the judgment of Apex Court, in case of Smt.Surinder Kaur Sandhu (supra) and in particular paragraph Nos 8, 9 and l0 thereof. In that case the marriage between the parties took place in l975 in the State of Punjab. Soon after the marriage the parties left for England where a boy named Pritpal Singh was born to them on October 24, l976. The relationships between the parties were strained and the husband was trapped by the Bershire Police who got the scent that he was negotiating with a hitman to have the wife run over by a car. The husband was convicted and sentenced to a term of three years for that offence. Ironically, it was the wife who intervened and succeeded in obtaining a probation order for the man who had attempted to procure her murder. The husband was released on probation on February 4, 1982. The period of probation expired on December 24, 1982.While the wife was away at work on January 3l, l983, the husband removed the boy from England and brought him to India. On the same day wife obtained an order under Section 4l of the Supreme Court Act, l981 under which the boy became ward of the Court with effect from that date. In April, l983, the wife came to India and on May 5, l983 filed petition under Section 97 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, l973, asking for the custody of her son, before the Court of learned Judicial Magistrate First Class, Jagraon. The respondent relied upon section 6 of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 and opposed the petition on the ground that he was the natural guardian of minor boy. The order obtained by the wife under Section 4l of the Supreme Court Act, l981 on January 31, 1983 was confirmed on July 22, l983 by Mrs. Justice Booth of the High Court of Justice (Family Division), by that order, husband was directed to hand over the custody of the minor boy to the wife or her agent forthwith. She came to India again and then filed present petition before the High Court of Punjab and Haryana asking for the production and custody of her minor son. The Apex Court dealt with the rival claims of the parties (in paragraph l0) and answered the question of jurisdiction in the following terms.
?We may add that the spouses had set up their matrimonial home in England where the wife was working as a clerk and the husband as a bus driver. The boy is a British citizen, having been born in England, and he holds a British passport. It cannot be controverted that, in these circumstances, the English Court had jurisdiction to decide the question of his custody. The modern theory of Conflict of Laws, recognizes and, in any event, prefers the jurisdiction of the State which has the most intimate contact with the issues arising in the case. Jurisdiction is not attracted by the operation or creation of fortuitous circumstances such as the circumstances as to where the child, whose custody is in issue, is brought or for the time being lodged. To allow the assumption of jurisdiction by another State in such circumstances will only result in encouraging forum shopping. Ordinarily, jurisdiction must follow upon functional lines. That is to say, for example, that in matters relating to matrimony and custody, the law of that place must govern which has the closest concern with the well being of the spouses and the welfare of the offspring's of marriage. The spouses in this case had made England their home where this boy was born to them. The father cannot deprive the English Court of its jurisdiction to decide upon his custody by removing him to India, not in the normal movement of the matrimonial home but, by an act which was gravely detrimental to the peace of that home. The fact that the matrimonial home of the spouses was in England, establishes sufficient contacts or ties with that State in order to make it reasonable and just for the courts of that State to assume jurisdiction to enforce obligations which were incurred therein by the spouses. (See International Shoe Company v. State of Washington, which was not a matrimonial case but which is regarded as the fountainhead of the subsequent developments of jurisdictional issues like the one involved in the instant case.) it is our duty and function to protect the wife against the burden of litigating in an inconvenient forum which she and her husband had left voluntarily in order to make their living in England, where they gave birth to this unfortunate boy?.
22. Relying upon para l0 extracted herein above, learned counsel for the petitioners strenuously contended that the marriage took place in Australia. Minor child Ali is Australian citizen and he holds Australian pass port, the matrimonial home of the parties is in Australia. The competent Courts in Australia have passed orders in the matter of divorce as also custody. He abducted the child. Considering the cumulative effect of all these factors, first respondent ought to be directed to forthwith hand over the custody of the minor child, reserving him liberty to agitate the issue of custody before appropriate forum in Australia.
23. We will consider the submissions in the light of judgments relating to the custody of minor children. In Mckee v/s Mckee, (1951) 1 ALL England Law Reports 942 the case related to the child of parents who were both citizens of United States of America. The superior court of State of California had awarded custody of the child to his mother. Thereafter, and without the consent or knowledge of mother, the father took the child to the Province of Ontario. The mother thereupon instituted habeas corpus proceedings in Ontario seeking to have the child restored to her. The learned trial Judge, on considering the merits held that infants best interest would be served by leaving him in the custody of his father. The Court of Appeal for Ontario concurred with the learned trial Judge. On an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada reversed the decisions of the courts below. The case then came on appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The advice of the Judicial Committee was delivered by Lord Simonds, who, after holding that the trial Judge?s decision to hear and decide the case on its merits should not have been reversed, observed as under:-
?It is possible that a case might arise in which it appeared to a court, before which the question of custody of an infant came, that it was in the best interests of that infant that it should not look beyond the circumstances in which its jurisdiction was invoked and for that reason give effect to the foreign judgment without further inquiry. It is, however, the negation of the proposition, from which every judgment in the present case has proceeded, viz., that the infant?s welfare is the paramount consideration, to say that where the learned trial judge has in his discretion thought fit not to take the drastic course above indicated, but to examine all the circumstances and form an independent judgment, his decision ought for that reason to be overruled. Once it is conceded that the court of Ontario had jurisdiction to entertain the question of custody and that it need not blindly follow an order made by a foreign court, the consequence cannot be escaped that it must form an independent judgment on the question, all though in doing so it will give proper weight to the foreign judgment. What is the proper weight will depend on the circumstances of each case. It may be that, if the matter comes before the court of Ontario within a very short time of the foreign judgment and there is no new circumstance to be considered, the weight may be so great that such an order as the Supreme Court made in this case could be justified. If that is so, it would be not because the court of Ontario, having assumed jurisdiction, then abdicated it, but because in the exercise of its jurisdiction it determined what was for the benefit of the infant.?
24. In that case, Privy Council indicated that there may be cases in which it is proper for a court in one jurisdiction to make an order directing that the child be returned to a foreign jurisdiction without investigating the merits of the dispute relating to the case of that child on the ground that such an order is in the best interest of the child. The case before the Privy Council, however, was not such a case, for the learned trial Judge considered, and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council agreed with him that it was a case in which it was proper for him to investigate the merits at large.
25. In Re H (Infants), (1965) 3 ALL England Law Reports 906., Cross J. thought it proper to make an order sending the children back to their home country, without investigating the merits of the dispute between their parents. That case also related to the children of American parents, although their mother had been born in Scotland. In 1945 she had married an American and gone to live with him in USA, since that time it became her home there. In March 1964 she brought her two children to England ostensibly, for short holiday but in fact with the hope that she would never return to the USA. In so doing, she acted in contravention of the consent order made in an uncontested proceedings in the Supreme Court of the State of New York which awarded custody of the children to her and directed that they should be maintained in her apartment in New York and not removed from a 50 miles radius of Peekskill without the prior written consent of their father. Cross J., expressed a view that sudden and unauthorized removal of children from one country to another was far too frequent and it seemed to him to be the duty of all courts in all countries to do all that they could to ensure that wrongdoer did not gain an advantage by his wrongdoing. He considered that the American court was the proper court to decide the case and that the father would suffer a grave injustice if the English court assumed the task of deciding it because in the period which must necessarily elapse before the case could be disposed of in an English court the children might have taken root here. After discussing the authorities including Mckee v/s.Mckee he observed thus:
?In infancy cases the welfare of the infant is, of course, the chief consideration, but it is far from being the only consideration. When, in what I may call for short a ?kidnapping? case, the judge has to decide whether to send the child back whence he came or to allow the case to be fought out to the end over here, he has to weigh various considerations which may to some extent conflict with one another. On one side there is the public policy aspect, the question of comity and the question of ?forum conveniens?. Again on the same side there is the question of the injustice that may be done to the wronged parent if the court delays matters and allows the kidnapped child to take root in this country. On the other side, the court has to be satisfied, before it sends the child back, that the child will come to no harm.?
26. Having reached the conclusion that this would involve no risk of harm to the children, he directed that they should return to Unites States, without merits of the case having been investigated in England. The decision of the learned Judge was upheld by the Court of Appeal in judgment reported in (1966) 1 ALL England Law Reports 886.
27. Harman LJ, after saying that the Judge would have had jurisdiction to have gone into the merits of the dispute, had he thought fit to do so, observed; at page 892 as under:-
?If he chose, however, to take the course which the judge here took in the interests of the children, as he thought, of sending them back to the United States with no more inquiry into the matter than to ensure, so far as he could, that there was no danger to their moral or physical health in taking that course, I am of opinion that he was amply justified, and that that was the right way in which to approach the issue.?
28. These cases were considered in Re L (Minors), (1974) All England Law Reports 913. Buckley L.J., observed that there was nothing in the decision of Re H (Infants) to indicate that where a judge thinks proper to make what he called a summary order directing the return of a child to a foreign jurisdiction without a full investigation of the merits, he should not regard the welfare of the child as first and paramount consideration. On the contrary, in the learned Judge?s opinion, all the judgments in that case indicated that judges considered that the circumstances of the case were such that a summary order had been in the best interest of the children.
29. Thus, the case of Re H (Infants) there was no trial conducted and the summary jurisdiction was exercised. In Re E(Infants), (1967) 1 ALL England Law Reports 329, the said case also related to the child of American parents residents in the United States. They had been divorced and in March, 1962 in the contested proceedings, the father was awarded custody of the child. He was killed in a motor accident in December, 1965 and thereupon his sister who had married with Englishman and was resident in England, immediately traveled to US to bring the child back with her to England. On January 3, 1966 an American court ordered that the custody of the ward be delivered to her maternal grandmother, but, on January 6, the father?s sister succeeded in removing the child from US before that order had been served on her. On January 10, the American court made an order granting custody temporarily to the child?s mother. As soon as she was able the mother followed the child to England, whereupon the father?s sister started proceedings making the child a ward of court. This came in due course before Cross J. who considered that there were special circumstances which obliged him to order that the child should remain in England and continue to be brought up in England in the care of her aunt. The learned Judge considered the merits of the claims of both mother and aunt and after trial ordered that custody be given to aunt. The said decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeal in the judgment reported in 1967 (2) ALL England Law Reports 881.
30. In Re T (Infants), (1968) 3 All England Law Reports 411, the mother of two children to whom the proceedings related was the English woman who had married the Canadian and gone to live with him in Canada where they had their matrimonial home. In November 1967 while her husband was away from home, the mother left Canada with two children and brought them in England without her husband?s knowledge or consent. Soon after arriving in England, she issued an originating summons making the children wards of court. She also presented a petition for judicial separation on the ground of cruelty. Father followed the mother to England. Both the parents filed evidence and were cross-examined at the hearing. Pennycuick J. granted the father leave to take children out of the jurisdiction to Canada and directed that on leaving jurisdiction they should cease to be wards of court. The Court of Appeal affirmed the dicision of Pennycuick J. In the judgment reported in (1968) 3 All England Law Reports 412, Harman LJ. Observed as under:
?This court sets itself against the unilateral movements of children which have been far too frequent in the last few years. The right view is that the court should, other things being equal, set its face against such conduct, and I am supported in that by the observations of WILLMER, L.J., in Re E. (an infant)..... Now it is said by counsel for the wife that this case differs from all those reported because they all were cases in which there was an order of a foreign court which was flouted or disregarded by the parent removing children out of that court?s jurisdiction and that there is no such thing; there is no order of an Alberra court, and, therefore, there is nothing to it in the sense that the court ought to set its face against it. I do not take that view at all. It seems to me that the removal of children from their home and their surroundings by one of their parents who happens to live in or have connexions with another country is a thing against which the court should set its face, and that, unless there is good reason to the contrary, it should not countenance proceedings of that kind.?
31. Harman L.J. pointed out Re T (Infants) differed from Re H (Intants) in this respect, that Re T (Infants) was not an application for what could be termed as a summary order; both the parties had filed all the evidence they wished to file and had been cross-examined. The judge had all the material available for a decision on the merits of the dispute. Counsel in that case submitted that the learned Judge should have come to a conclusion on the material before him whether it was best that the children should be under the care of their father or their mother. With regard to this, Harman L.J. said in the same judgment at page 414, as under:-
?The judge pointed out, and I think absolutely rightly, that where there is a case where there are eight thousand miles between the homes of origin of the parents that is not the question at all; the question is, first, where do the children belong, where is the matrimonial establishment? Prima facie, the parent who breaks up the home cannot expect to profit from that conduct; he or she may be called a wrongdoer. Pennycuick J., did not hear all the evidence. He did, it is true, say that he followed Re H (Infants) and in that I think he was making a slip. He had in fact all the facts before him which either party wished to lay before him. He decided that it was in the interests of these children, being Canadian children with a Canadian father and a Canadian grandfather, that they should go back to their home in Canada and that if there are going to be disputes between the parents about their custody and control the proper court to decide that was the Alberra Court. In that I wholly agree with him; I think it is the right order to make in a case of this sort where there is nothing to be said against the father?s proposals that he should have the right to have them back with him in their proper home. There is nothing to prevent the mother following them. There is nothing to prevent the mother, if she wishes, obtaining access to them and if necessary applying to the Alberra court for that purpose; but this court is not to be compelled to say, in the abstract so to speak, that the father or the mother ought to have the care and control; that is not the point in a case of this sort; the point is that these children belong to Canada and, other things being equal, there they should go?
It will be noted that Harman LJ there states that the order is one which is made in the interest of the children.
32. Russel L.J. in the same judgment at page 415, said as under:-
?The children are Canadian children of a Canadian family, born and brought up there. If care and control is given, as she asks, to the mother, they will remain with her in England, virtually cut off from their father, who is an artisan of adequate but modest means. On the other hand, if they go back to Canada, whence they should never have been removed, I have no doubt in my mind that the mother will herself go back to Alberra, though not to the father; and indeed she would be a poor sort of mother if she did not. Their return to Canada is, it seems to me, their only prospect of growing up under the influence of and knowing both their parents. In all the circumstances, agreeing as I do with the judge that no danger to the children is involved in this step, the right order is that they should return to Alberra with the father and, on leaving the jurisdiction be dewarded; and this is what the judge ordered. This, of course, leaves it to the Alberra courts, if called on, to decide as between the father and the mother in whose care and control in Alberra the children should ultimately be; and in those circumstances, for the solution of that question Alberra must be as a matter of common sense the right forum.?
The relief granted in that case was not of a summary nature; it was relief which the court considered to serve the best interests of the children after a full investigation of the merits.
33. In the case of J v/s. C, (1969) 1 All England Law Reports 820, it was held that where in a wardship case the court considers the facts and fully investigates the merits of a dispute, the welfare of the child concerned is not the only consideration but is the first and paramount consideration or be taken into account, whether the dispute be between a parent and a parent, to between parents and a stranger in blood or between one such stranger and another. As to the meaning of first and paramount consideration Lord MacDermott in J v/s. C said as under:-
?Reading these words in their ordinary significance, and relating them to the various classes of proceedings which the section has already mentioned, it seems to me that they must mean more than that the child?s welfare is to be treated as the top item in a list of items relevant to the matter in question. I think they connote a process whereby, when all the relevant facts, relationships, claims and wishes of parents, risks, choices and other circumstances are taken into account and weighed, the course to be followed will be that which is most in the interests of the child?s welfare as that term has now to be understood. That is the first consideration because it is of first importance and the paramount consideration because it rules on or determines the course to be followed.?
34. In Re L (Minors), (1974) 1 All England Law Reports 913, Buckley LJ observed as under:-
?How, then, do the kidnapping cases fit these principles? Where the court has embarked on a full-scale investigation of the facts, the applicable principles, in my view, do not differ from those which apply to any other wardship case. The action of one party in kidnapping the child is doubtless one of the circumstances to be taken into account, and may be a circumstance of great weight; the weight to be attributed to it must depend on the circumstances of the particular case. The court may conclude that notwithstanding the conduct of the `kidnapper? the child should remain in his or her care (Mckee v.Mckee, Re E (an infant) and Re T A (Infants), where the order was merely interim; or it may conclude that the child should be returned to his or her native country or the jurisdiction from which he or she has been removed Re T (Infants). Where a court makes a summary order for the return of a child to a foreign country without investigating the merits, the same principles in my judgment, apply, but the decision must be justified on somewhat different grounds.?
35. The Apex Court in the case of Dhanwanti Joshi (supra) considered various judgments as also the law applicable in Canada, America, Australia and United Kingdom and observed in paragraphs 29 and 30 as under:-
?29. However, there is an apparent contradiction between the above view and the one expressed in H.(infants), Re (1966) 1 All England Reports 886 and in E (an infant), Re (1967) 1 All England Reports 881, to the effect that the court in the country to which the child is removed will send back the child to the country from which the child has been removed. This apparent conflict was explained and resolved by the Court of Appeal in 1974 in L (minors) (wardship: jurisdiction), Re (1974) 1 All England Reports 912 and in R. (minors) (wardship: jurisdiction), Re (1981) 2 FLR 416. It was held by the Court of Appeal in L, Re (1974) 1 All England Reports 912 that the view in Mckee v.Mckee is still the correct view and that the limited question which arose in the latter decisions was whether the court in the country to which the child was removed could conduct (a) a summary inquiry or (b) an elaborate inquiry on the question of custody. In the case of (a) a summary inquiry, the court would return custody to the country from which the child was removed unless such return could be shown to be harmful to the child. In the case of (b) an elaborate inquiry, the court could go into the merits as to where the permanent welfare lay and ignore the order of the foreign court or treat the fact of removal of the child from another country as only one of the circumstances. The crucial question as to whether the Court (in the country to which the child is removed) would exercise the summary or elaborate procedure is to be determined according to the child?s welfare. The summary jurisdiction to return the child is invoked, for example, if the child had been removed from its native land and removed to another country where, may be, his native language is not spoken, or the child gets divorced from the social customs and contacts to which he has been accustomed, or if its education in his native land is interrupted and the child is being subjected to a foreign system of education ? for these are all acts which could psychologically disturb the child. Again the summary jurisdiction is exercised only if the court to which the child has been removed is moved promptly and quickly, for in that event, the Judge may well be persuaded that it would be better for the child that those merits should be investigated in a court in his native country on the expectation that an early decision in the native country could be in the interests of the child before the child could develop roots in the country to which he had been removed. Alternatively, the said court might think of conducting an elaborate inquiry on merits and have regard to the other facts of the case and the time that has lapsed after the removal of the child and consider if it would be in the interests of the child not to have it returned to the country from which it had been removed. In that event, the unauthorized removal of the child from the native country would not come in the way of the court in the country to which the child has been removed, to ignore the removal and independently consider whether the sending back of the child to its native country would be in the paramount interests of the child. (See Rayden & Jackson, 15th Edn., 1988 pp.147779; Bromley, Family law 7th Edn., 1987). In R (minors) (wardship: jurisdiction, Re (1981) 2 FLR 416, it has been firmly held that the concept of forum conveniens has no place in wardship jurisdiction.?
?30.We may here state that this Court in Elizabeth Dinshaw v.Arvand M.Dinshaw, (1987) 1 SCC 42, while dealing with a child removed by the father from USA contrary to the custody orders of the US Court directed that the child be sent back to USA to the mother not only because of the principle of comity but also because, on facts, which were independently considered ? it was in the interests of the child to be sent back to the native State. There the removal of the child by the father and the mother?s application in India were within six months. In that context, this Court referred to H. (infants), Re (1966) 1 All England Reports 886, which case, as pointed out by us above has been explained in L. Re (1974) 1 All England Reports 912, as a case where the Court though it fit to exercise its summary jurisdiction in the interests of the child. Be that as it may, the general principles laid down in Mckee v.Mckee and J v.C and the distinction between summary and elaborate inquiries as stated in L.(infants) Re (1974) 1 All England Reports 912 are today well settled in UK, Canada, Australia and USA. The same principles apply in our country. Therefore nothing precludes the Indian Courts from considering the question on merits, having regard to the delay from 1984 ? even assuming that the earlier orders passed in India do not operate as constructive res judicata.?
36. In the case of Sarita Sharma V/s. Sushil Sharma, AIR 2000 SC 1019, Sushil Sharma had filed a writ petition seeking writ of habeas corpus in respect of two minor children; Nil aged 6 years and Monica aged 3 years on the ground that they were in illegal custody of his wife Sarita. The marriage took place on December 23, 1988. Sushil initiated proceedings for dissolution of marriage in 1994 in the district court of parent county, Texas, USA. In the said proceedings interim orders were passed from time to time with respect to the custody and care of the children and visitation rights of Sushil Sharma & Sarita Sharma. On May 7, 1997 Sarita Sharma had picked up the children from Sushil Sharma?s residence in exercise of her visitation rights. She was to leave the children for school next date morning. She, however, did not bring back children to the school. Sarita Sharma vacated her apartment and during inquiries it was revealed that Sarita Sharma, without obtaining any order from American court came to India with children. The High Court allowed the writ petition and directed Sarita Sharma to restore the custody of two children to Sushil. The passport of two children were also ordered to be handed over to Sushil. In an appeal preferred by Sarita Sharma, the Apex Court in paragraph No.6 has observed as under:
?6. Therefore it will not be proper to be guided entirely by the fact that the appellant Sarita had removed the children from USA. despite the order of the Court of that country. So also, in view of the facts and circumstances of the case, the decree passed by the American Court through a relevant factor, cannot override the consideration of welfare of the minor children. We have already stated earlier that in USA respondent Sushil is staying along with his mother aged about 80 years. There is no one else in the family. The respondent appears to be in the habit of taking excessive alcohol. Though it is true that both the children have the American citizenship and there is a possibility that in USA they may be able to get better education, it is doubtful if the respondent will be in a position to take proper care of the children when they are so young. Out of them one is a female child. She is aged about 5 years. Ordinarily, a female child should be allowed to remain with her mother so that she can be properly looked after. It is also not desirable that two children are separated from each other. If a female child has to stay with the mother, it will be in the interest of both the children that they both stay with the mother. Here in India also proper care of the children is taken and they are at present studying in good schools. We have not found the appellant wanting in taking proper care of the children. Both the children have a desire to stay with the mother. At the same time it must be said that the son, who is elder than daughter, has good feeling for his father also. Considering all the aspects relating to the welfare of the children, we are of the opinion that inspite of the order passed by the Court in USA it was not proper for the High Court to have allowed the Habeas Corpus writ petition and directed the appellant to hand over custody of the children to the respondent and permit him to take them away of USA. What would be in the interest of the children requires a full and through inquiry and, therefore, the High Court should have directed the respondent to initiate appropriate proceedings in which such an inquiry can be held. Still there is some possibility of mother returning to USA in the interest of the children. Therefore, we do not desire to say anything more regarding entitlement of the custody of the children. The chances of the appellant returning to USA with the children would depend upon the joint efforts of the appellant and the respondent to get the arrest warrant cancelled by explaining to the Court in USA the circumstances under which she had left USA with the children without taking permission of the Court. There is a possibility that both of them may thereafter be able to approach the Court which passed the decree to suitably modify the order with respect to the custody of the children and visitation rights.?
37. In the case of Gaurav Nagpal V/s.Sumedha Nagpal, AIR 2009 SC 557, the Apex Court considered the English law in paragraph No.20 of the judgment, in the following words:-
?English Law ? In Halsbury?s Laws of England, Fourth Edition, Vol.24, para 511 at page 217 it has been stated:-
Where in any proceedings before any court the custody or upbringing of a minor is in question, then, in deciding that question, the court must regard the minor?s welfare as the first and paramount consideration, and may not take into consideration whether from any other point of view the father?s claim in respect of that custody or upbringing is superior to that of the mother, or the mother?s claim is superior to that of the father.?
The Apex Court also considered the American law in paragraph No.25 of the judgment, in the following words:
?American Law ? Law in the United States is also not different. In American Jurisprudence, Second Edition, Vol.39; para 31; page 34, it is stated; As a rule, in the selection of a guardian of a minor, the best interest of the child is the paramount consideration, to which even the rights of parents must sometimes yield.?
38. In the light of the aforesaid judgment, first we have to address on the question as to whether in the facts and circumstances of the present case, we should conduct summery enquiry or elaborate enquiry. Shri. Sen, learned counsel for the petitioners urged that the respondent kidnapped the child after he brought him to India in September, 2008 and within six months, the present petition is instituted. Having regard to this fact as also the consent order passed by the competent Australian Court, we should return the custody to the first petitioner leaving the respondent to approach the Australian Court for adopting appropriate remedy. In support of his submission he relied upon the judgment of the Apex Court, in the case of Elizabeth Dinshaw (supra), wherein the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Re H (infant), (l965) 3, of England Law Reports 906 was considered. He also relied upon the judgment of the Apex Court in the case of Surinder Kaur Sandhu (supra) and in particular paragraph l0 thereof, he distinguished the judgment of the Apex Court in the case of Dhanwanti Joshi (supra) on the ground that the appellant in that case was having the custody of child for more than l2 years and the child should not be uprooted from the environment in which he had grown for the last more than l2 years. In the instant case child is brought to India in September, 2008.
39. Even if we accept the submissions advanced by Shri. Sen, learned counsel for the petitioner that we should conduct summary enquiry nevertheless before taking such drastic action, we will have to examine whether it is in the best interests of the child to order return of child without further enquiry. Whether we conduct summary enquiry or elaborate enquiry, the first and foremost consideration is the welfare of the child. In this background we have to consider the claim of the petitioners visavis the claim of the first respondent for the custody of the child.
40. The petitioners contend that the petitioner No.1 is well educated lady and is working as leading hand Cleaner in a reputed organization. She is earning $ 35,000 Australian Dollars per annum. The first respondent is not in a position to take proper care of Ali or to provide him with proper education of his own. The petitioner No.2 has always been a primary carer of Ali providing him with love and emotional support. The petitioner No.1 currently lives with her parents, her father and petitioner No.2. Ali has close relations with the petitioner No.2 and her husband. Ali has also close relations with the petitioner No.1?s partner Tony Alexander and their 2 year old son Dante. The petitioner No.1 is receiving an income support pension of AUD $550.00 ie Rs.l8,045/. The family resides in five bed room brick home in Wagga Wagga which is close to the school and shops and all amenities. The petitioner No.1 and Tony Alexander intend to move into their own home. Tony Alexander is in full time employment in Wagga Wagga as a barista in a reputed organization. He is earning $ 30,000.00 Australian Dollars per annum and is financially sound to maintain the family.
41. The Petitioners further contend that the first respondent forcefully abducted the child from the custody of the petitioners which is contrary to the orders passed by the competent Australian Court. The first respondent consented to passing of the order of joint custody and thus had submitted to the jurisdiction and orders by Foreign Court. The marriage between the parties took place in Australia, the birth of child Ali took place in Australia, their matrimonial home is in Australia. Child Ali is Australian citizen. The competent Australian Court had passed order of joint custody. The first respondent being wrong doer can not take advantage of his own wrong. The custody of child Ali should be handed over to the petitioners reserving liberty to the first respondent to approach the Australian Court for variation and/or modification of the consent order.
42. It is further submitted that all the material relied upon by the first respondent herein was also before Australian Court. He should have contested the custody proceeding. On the other hand he agreed for the joint custody of child Ali thereby he accepted that the first petitioner is a qualified parent who should have custody of a child. It is further contended that the first petitioner is a willing parent to participate in upbringing of child. She has not denied access to the first respondent. On the contrary, the first respondent denied access to the first petitioner.
43. It is further submitted that the documents relied upon by the first respondent namely Medical and Police reports can not be relied upon by him as they are not admissible in evidence. Even otherwise those reports are irrelevant. There is cultural difference between India and Australia. The police reports did not result in the prosecution or conviction of the first petitioner. Lastly it was contended that minor child Ali is aged about 3 and half years and the petitioner No.1 being mother is entitled to have custody of child.
44. On the other hand Shri.Vashi, learned counsel for the first respondent submitted that the petitioners have suppressed the material facts and in particular birth of twins in the entire petition. The first petitioner and her partner Tony Alexander are staying with parents of first petitioner. The petitioner No.1 is addicted to drinking, gambling and substance abuses. Even after marriage, the petitioner No.1 continued to go out for wild parties in pubs and discostheques. The petitioner No.2 and father of the petitioner No.1 have filed for bankruptcy at Australia. The petitioner No.1 and her father do not have money. They work on odd jobs and they do not have steady income either to look after themselves or to look after the minor child Ali. He further submitted that the first respondent had gone to Australia on student visa and has not acquired citizenship of Australia. He is a Shia Muslim by religion and his son will also be Shia Muslim and will be governed by the provisions of Muslim Personal Law. As per Muslim Personal Law, applicable to Shia, mother is natural guardian of son till the son is of two years old. Since the son Ali is aged about three and half years old, he is entitled to declaration u/s 7(2) (B) of the Guardians and Wards Act, l890 as guardian of Ali.
45. He further contended that the first respondent intends to settle down in Mumbai permanently and he is entitled to apply for guardianship and custody of the child Ali before the Family Court at Bandra. He has further contended that the petitioner No.1 was legally divorced from the respondent with effect from January l3, 2008. During the subsistence of this marriage, she gave birth to a boy Dante on December 13, 2006 out of relationship and not marriage and even before divorce from the first respondent she was pregnant with her twins which were delivered on September 9, 2008 again out of relationship. The first respondent also pointed out Apprehending Violence Order passed under the laws applicable to New South Wales Crimes Act, l900. The first respondent applied thereunder and was declared to be as a protected person under that Act, in view of the violent behaviour of the first petitioner. He also invited out attention to the behaviour of the first petitioner after obtaining Apprehending Violence Order.
46. The petitioners denied of having filed for any bankruptcy of Australia and contend that the first respondent was arrested for offence of stating false name and of exceeding the speed limit by more than l5 Km/h. He was convicted in that case and was imposed fine of $ 200.00. In so far as Apprehending Violence Order, it is submitted that same do not amount to a criminal conviction. The said orders are made without testing the evidence and quite often they are consented to as they are not criminal conviction and opposing them is not only difficult but expensive. The first respondent had been convicted twice for assaulting the petitioner No.1.
47. The Petitioners contend that the first respondent is deliberately trying to deviate from the main issue of fraud committed by him on the Australian Court and trying to justify his illegal act by maligning character of first petitioner. It was submitted that only after separating from the first respondent in December, 2005, the petitioner No.1 entered into the relationship with Tony Alexander and has three children with said Tony Alexander. The petitioner No.1 has formed permanent relationship with Tony Alexander and they intend to marry. The said intention of remarriage of the petitioner No.1 does not hamper the welfare and good upbringing of the child in any manner especially when the child and the said Tony Alexander share a loving relationship and bond together. The said Tony Alexander is ready and
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willing to take the responsibility of good upbringing of the child Ali. The petitioners and father of petitioner No.1, denied filing of bankruptcy and put the respondent to the strict proof. 48. The first Respondent in his affidavit dated March 25, 2009, relied upon photographs of the first petitioner with various male strangers. According to him, the photographs clearly show that the said male strangers are more than friends. He has also annexed extract indicating that the father of the first petitioner and husband of the second petitioner is actually declared bankrupt. Even second petitioner is an undischarged bankrupt. Mr. Vashi, learned counsel for the first respondent invited our attention to the Police report of NSW, in respect of suspected drug activity of certain persons. Among them is the first petitioner and the starting date is shown as May l999 and category of drugs shown is Cannabis. He also invited our attention to the Hospital report of the first petitioner dated November 1, 2003, to the following effect; ?On 1.11.2003, presented to Canberra hospital with chest tightness and palpitations ? allegedly stopped breathing, was sent home alleged drug reaction to speed ECG?, and lastly to report of Wagga Wagga base Hospital on November l9, 2004. In support of his submission that the petitioner No.1 is addicted to drinking and substance abuses. 49. We have also interviewed minor child in our chamber. He frankly told us that he loves both Mummy and Papa. Considering his age, in our opinion, he can not be judgmental. We are conscious of the fact that despite the consent order of the Competent Court, the first respondent stealthily brought the child to India. In fact in our opinion the first respondent misled the petitioners and on the ground that he wants his child to meet his parents in India, he obtained consent of the first petitioner. In our opinion it was his clear intention to somehow bring back the child to India, his conduct requires to be deprecated in the strongest terms. We do not approve the conduct of the first respondent in bringing child by misleading the petitioners and retaining custody in violation of the orders of the Australian Court. Mr. Vashi, submits that the first respondent had adopted appropriate remedy by approaching the family Court at Bandra. We do not wish to comment on this proceeding, but at the same time, it was highly desirable that the first respondent ought to have approached the Australian Court for variations and/or modification of consent order of custody. He did not choose that for obvious reasons. The first respondent was obviously a wrong doer. Having regard to this, we have to consider the question of handing over the custody of minor child in the light of paramount consideration namely welfare of the child. 50. In our opinion having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case, the best interests of child would be served by ordering custody of the child to the first respondent. It has come on record that the first respondent is living with his father, grand mother, mother and paternal aunt. There are three lady members in his house. His father has also retired. In these circumstances the minor child will be properly looked after by the first respondent. As against this, the petitioner No.1l is residing with her parents alongwith her partner Tony Alexaner from whom she bore three children. We have already indicated earlier in what circumstances these children were born. The petitioner No.2 and her husband have been declared undischarged bankrupt. Tony Alexander has not filed any affidavit before us indicating that he is ready and willing to look after the upbringing of minor child Ali. The first petitioner is getting unemployment pension amount which indicates that presently she is unemployed. The order of custody passed by Australian Court is passed in terms of consent given by the parties. The decision of Australian Court is not on merits of the case. The decision was made on November 20, 2007. Mr. Sen, learned counsel undoubtedly submitted that all this material on which the first respondent relies was before Australian Court. Despite that the first respondent agreed for joint custody of minor child and thus is estopped from contending that the first petitioner is not qualified for custody of minor child. Since we have held elaborate enquiry as regards to custody of child, we are of the opinion that on the basis of material placed before us, we are entitled to take independent decision having regard to welfare of the child. The fact of bankruptcy apparently was not before Australian Court. The fact that twins were born out of relationship was also not apparently before Australian Court. We are not here to condemn the first petitioner but at the same time we are of the view that the welfare of the child will be served in a better manner by handing over his custody to the father. 51. The first respondent has already moved Family Court at Bandra for permanent custody of Ali among other reliefs. The observation made by us is only for the purpose of disposal of this petition. The family Court will decide the case filed by the first respondent uninfluenced by the observations made here and in accordance with law. 52. On the issue of visitation rights, we have heard learned counsel for the parties. Mr.Vashi, learned counsel for the first respondent submitted that the first respondent will permit the first petitioner to visit minor child Ali four times in a year, subject to her giving advance notice to the first respondent so as to enable him to make arrangements for tickets, hotel bookings etc. He will bear expenses of travelling of the first petitioner as also the expenses to be incurred by her during her stay in India. He will make arrangement in a reasonably good hotel for lodging and boarding of the first petitioner at his expenses. We accept this statement. We make it clear that visitation rights shall not be for less than seven clear days excluding the day of arrival and the day of departure. In addition to this, the first respondent will permit the first petitioner to visit minor child Ali as and when she desires at her costs, subject to giving advance notice to him. During the visit of the first petitioner to India for the purpose of meeting minor child Ali, she will not be allowed to take the child out of Mumbai without previous permission of the Family Court, Bandra, Mumbai, where the proceedings initiated by the first respondent are pending. The learned counsel for both the parties agree to workout the modalities enabling the first petitioner to exercise her visiting rights. The order of visitation rights passed by us, shall continue to operate till the suitable orders are obtained by the first petitioner from the Family Court, Bandra, Mumbai, where the proceedings initiated by the first respondent are pending. 53. In the light of the above discussion, Rule is discharged with no order as to costs.