IMPLICITY

Best Interests of the Child- Part 1/2

Posted in society, Uncategorized by Nehaa on December 20, 2009

Best interests of the child…. Welfare of the child… phrases that are the touchstone of any judgment of any court pertaining to matters of child rights.  Right? Now ponder this…

Two families, neighbours- one Hindu, one Muslim- close friends.

The Muslim family had a young daughter, who had, for all practical purposes, been brought up by the Hindu family.  She dined with them, slept in their house, spent a good part of her day there, and so on. Since the families were good friends, her parents had no objection, until one day, when they called her home, she refused to come, and this behaviour continued for days to come. Further, she refused to acknowledge her biological parents at all, and stayed put with the Hindu family (who refused to hand the child over to the parents.) When the matter was taken to the police, it was further found that the Hindu parents had changed the name, religion and other details of the child in the school records, and attempted to obtain a new birth certificate for her. A habeas corpus has been filed by the Muslim family in the Karnataka High Court. They allege that the girl has been brainwashed by the Hindu family, now claiming custody of their daughter.

The child (now aged around 8 years) wants to stay with the Hindu family and does not wish to go home.  The court passed an interim order, instructing the child to stay with the Hindu family, while the biological parents were granted visitation rights every saturday for half an hour, in the presence of the police.

The case is pending decision in the High Court of Karnataka.

There are just two angles to this…… the child has to live with one of the two families, the question is which one.

On the one hand you return the child to the biological parents, when she prefers staying with the Hindu family and does not want to go live with her biological. On the other, you let  her stay with the Hindu family, who, without the knowledge of her parents, made very significant changes in her identity, changes she is far too young to realise the consequences of.

You decide.(Comments Please.)

I merely sought to present a problem to attempt to generate some ideas on child welfare, its understanding, and the sensitive nature of the problem, and how tackling it on a broad level through ‘best interests of the child’ might just have opened Pandora’s Box.

More on that later…. until then, I’d appreciate comments posting your views on the case.

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4 Responses

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  1. Siddhant said, on December 20, 2009 at 11:20 am

    To decide the best interest of the child, no one could decide it better than the child herself..
    The facts need to be more detailed. What was the reason for the child staying at the neighbor’s house? Was it her own choice or some kind of coercive force? The fact that her name and religion was changed must have a reason for it.. if there is any scam in the neighbor’s family, then definitely the best interest would be in giving her back to her biological parents.. If, however, there is nothing wrong in any house, then i guess it should be left to the child’s choice to decide what is in her best interest..

  2. Nehaa said, on December 20, 2009 at 11:35 am

    child stayed there out of her own choice.. like i mentioned earlier, the families were friends, and therefore her parents did not initially object to her staying with the Hindu family. The issue came up only when she suddenly refused to come home at all, and considered the Hindu couple to be her parents.

    There’s no reason for changing her name and religion. The Hindu couple arbitrarily had the school records changed.. School authorities are no doubt responsible, but that’s not within the ambit of this case

  3. Siddhant said, on December 20, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    But the fact that the hindu family has changed the records reflect that they didn’t want to accept her as a muslim which does not indicate that there is ideal harmony in the hindu house..

  4. Nehaa said, on December 20, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    It’s not even about whether there is harmony in the house.

    The fact is simply this- can you send a child to live with a family that has changed her identity (for all practical purposes) even if she wants to live with them, when she is too young to understand the consequences of this, and 20 years later it will be a different story?


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