New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday sought the Centre’s response on a petition filed by Child Rights Foundation (CRF) for laying down norms for custody of children affected by divorce of their parents and guidelines for ‘shared parenting’. A bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and Sanjay Kishan Kaul issued notice on the petition after hearing senior counsel Santosh Paul, appearing for the NGO, CRF, which said the present petition has been filed for all children who are faced with antagonizing situations in the courts due their parent’s irretrievable breakage of marriage.
The CRF said that it is well known that children are the primary victims of divorce and largely bear the brunt of the custody matters. With the noble intention of protecting our children, Family Court Act, 1984 was passed by Parliament. However, approximately 400 family courts functioning in India today have completely failed to protect and safeguard the best interests and welfare of our children thus depriving them love and affection of both the parents. It pointed out that as per the present system, custody of child is awarded to one parent and very limited access / visitation rights are granted to other parent i.e. non-custodial parent. The non-custodial parents are relegated to the role of mere visitors in their child’s life and are not allowed to fulfill their parenting role resulting in destruction of parent-child relationship.
The CRF said a plethora of false allegations by custodial parent is muddying the picture, and not allowing the presiding judicial officer any credible data to base his/her orders. Unfortunately and rather surprisingly, these allegations and patent lies go unpunished thereby destroying the sanctity of the judicial system and further increase animosity between the “warring” parents. It said time has come for this Court to implement norms as per the National Charter for Children, 2003 to enforce shared parenting 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.