After a very bitter child custody battle for past many years, the Supreme Court of India has paved the way for a mutual divorce settlement and joint custody of a minor girl child. The daughter, who is now around 6-years-old, is an American passport holder.
Supreme Court Order Dated May 11, 2022
- The parties agree to a mutual consent divorce which will be moved before this Court itself and the Court is willing to exercise jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution of India to grant mutual consent divorce
- The guardianship and custody of the minor child will remain with the mother
- The father will have visiting rights to the child and the details will be worked out how the vacation period will be broadly shared between the parties. An appropriate arrangement would also be made for weekend visits with the father and the child being collected from the school on Friday evening and returned to the mother by 10.30 Sunday morning
- The mother will give up all rights for maintenance for herself in view of the fact that the overall settlement is being arrived at and she is a well qualified doctor
- As far as the child is concerned, the father commits to meeting 50 per cent of her educational expenses for the present time and times to come. This will depend on what route the education takes but suffice to say that at present the child is being educated in the American School, which expenses itself are in the range of Rs.27 lakhs per annum
- The father will commit an amount for maintenance of the child now and revisable in the future by 20 per cent every three years
- The child has an American passport. She will maintain the American passport and there is no question of surrender of the same and it will be the child’s option which citizenship she would like to take when she attains the age of majority
- All other proceedings including the criminal proceedings inter se the parties, their family members/associates will be brought to an end by orders of this Court
- The parties will file joint parenting plan and the parenting will be jointly shared by the two parties
- The counsel for the mother assures that if the eventuality arises at any stage for any period to shift to the US or any other Western country, the orders of this Court will be mirrored before the competent Courts there
Aman Lohia, son of a noted businessman having family relations with a London-based global steel tycoon, had been fighting a child custody battle for his minor daughter, earlier in Delhi High Court and later at the Supreme Court of India, against his separated wife Kiran Kaur Lohia, a well-known dermatologist having a clinic in an upscale locality of South Delhi.
As per a detailed report by NDTV in 2019, the High Court had then handed over the custody of the child to the mother with a parenting plan according to which Aman Lohia could meet his daughter for some hours on three days of every week. The court has also asked him to deposit his passport, which he did.
But, the order did not go down well with Aman Lohia who considered it as “gender bias of Indian courts towards women”.
With his passport deposited in the court, Aman Lohia allegedly decided to escape to Dubai using a passport acquired from the Caribbean country the Commonwealth of Dominica. He reached Dubai where “personal laws enjoin exclusive custody upon the father”, the High Court had noted in one of the proceedings.
On August 24, 2019 when the then 3-year-old daughter had come to meet father as per the parenting plan, he took her along with family confidant Pawan Kumar and maid Shiuratia Debi Mahato to board a flight to Bagdogra with the Delhi Police on their trail.
From Bagdogra, they took a taxi to Kathmandu from where they went to Dubai via a circuitous route to gulf cities including Doha.
Considering “international ramifications”, the Delhi High Court handed over the probe to the CBI which had registered a case and started the process for a Red Corner Notice against Aman Lohia and Mahato.
The agency later arrested Pawan Kumar upon his return from Dubai and he had been sent to judicial court.
External Affairs Ministry Action
Aman’s lawyers had filed an affidavit on September 4, 2019, claiming he was a “victim of gender bias” of the courts and that it was the “love for his daughter” which directed his actions, reported Hindustan Times.
The HC had rejected his arguments and said that Lohia had taken the law into his own hands, become a judge, jury and an executioner and was now trying to adorn the role of a victim. The court had termed Lohia’s escape with his daughter on a Dominican Passport and refusal to subject himself to the jurisdiction of the Indian legal system as a contempt of court.
The external affairs ministry issued a note verbale on September 9, 2019 to UAE authorities to not let Aman leave the country. In December 2019, the Central Bureau of Investigation filed a charge sheet against Lohia. In February 2020, Aman was brought back to India.
The global agency Interpol had issued a Yellow Notice for the minor daughter. The CBI too had initiated the process to get a Red Corner Notice issued against Aman Lohia, the father.
Yellow Notices are issued by the Interpol on the request of member countries to locate missing persons, while Red Corner Notices are a global request to arrest an absconder.
Our story updated as on March 2020
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Aman Lohia #ChildCustody Case | Couple To File For Mutual Divorce & Adopt #SharedParenting Plan For Minor Daughter— Men’s Day Out (@MensDayOutIndia) May 18, 2022
▪️Child is American passport holder
▪️Father absconded with daughter to Dubai
▪️Brought back to 🇮🇳 in 2020#ParentalAlienation #SpeakUpMenhttps://t.co/iUOwwLVfcd
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