The Supreme Court on Friday said that courts cannot act as a “super guardian” as adult individuals have the right to make their own decisions, The Times of India reported.
The court said this while dismissing the petition of a woman from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala. She had sought the custody of her 19-year-old daughter, who was living with her father in Kuwait.
“It needs no special emphasis to state that attaining the age of majority in an individual’s life has its own significance,” a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said, adding that the individual is entitled to make their own choice. “The courts cannot, as long as the choice remains, assume the role of parens patriae [legal protector].”
The bench added: “The daughter is entitled to enjoy her freedom as the law permits and the court should not assume the role of super guardian being moved by any kind of sentiment of the mother or egotism of the father...We say so without any reservation.”
Before rejecting the petition, the court had spoken to the daughter, who had said that she wanted to continue to live with her father and pursue her career. She told the court that she was pursuing her graduation through a correspondence course from the Indira Gandhi National Open University, while also doing an internship.
The mother’s counsel had argued that the daughter was pressured and coached by her father, but the court said that the girl has spoken without any hesitation.
However, it ordered the woman’s estranged husband to send their 13-year-old son to the mother during summer vacations.
In November, the Supreme Court had ordered Hadiya, a woman from Kerala whose conversion from Hinduism to Islam and marriage to a Muslim man led to a controversy and allegations of “love jihad”, back to her college in Tamil Nadu to finish her studies. Hadiya had, however, said that she was not forced to convert to Islam and only wanted to be with her husband Shafin Jahan.
In August, Jahan had moved the Supreme Court against a Kerala High Court order that had annulled their marriage and asked that Hadiya be sent to her parents. The Supreme Court had then held that a woman’s consent as an adult is the most important aspect to consider in a case.