A Family Court in Delhi in its recent order has instructed Aesha Mukerji, estranged wife of Indian Cricketer Shikar Dhawan, to send their 9-year-old son for a family get together in India.
The cricketer and his wife have been fighting a bitter divorce and child custody battle, and the father has not met his son since August 2020.
The couple have parted ways and living separately, where the wife has moved to Australia with their son. Both parties have initiated cases against each other in India as well as in Australia.
The Dhawan family had planned a family reunion which was initially fixed for June 17. However, the mother who left with the child objected to sending the son on pretext of his school commitments. Dhawan then rescheduled the family get together for July 1 taking into account school holidays so that the child can visit India without missing school.
However, Aesha again objected to the change in dates, arguing that it would be a flop show as most of the extended family members were not consulted before fixing the date.
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Family Court, Delhi
In a detailed report published by Bar and Bench Judge Harish Kumar observed:
A mother alone does not have rights over a child.
The Family Court pulled up Aesha for her objections of bringing the child to India after noting that Shikhar’s family has not met the child since August 2020. The Court observed:
Even if petitioner presumably did not consult the other members of his extended family, what would be the consequence thereof – at best such get together would be a flop one as many of his members of the family might not make it to the party but petitioner and his parents will have the joy of having the company of their eye’s apple.
Admittedly, child of the petitioner has not visited India since August, 2020 and parents of the petitioner and other family members have not got chance to meet the child and petitioner’s desire to have bis child meet with grand parents cannot be said to be unreasonable.
The judge further noted that the mother did not submit any genuine reasoning for not allowing the son to meet with his father and his family. The Court questioned,
Why she does not want the child to be frequent and familiar to petitioner’s home and his relatives in India. Hence, in this circumstance when there is school holiday of the child, petitioner’s desire to have the child in India for few days cannot be said to be unrealistic particularly when child is comfortable with petitioner.
“Child Won’t Be Comfortable Meeting Father”: Mother
Aesha had informed court about her ‘concerns’ that the child would not be comfortable to meet his father (Shikhar Dhawan). However, the Family Court objected stating that such grounds were not mentioned in the proceedings for permanent custody of the child. It noted that both the parties were blaming each other for the litigation. The Court added,
Blame for polluting the environment within the family has to be shared by both. Dispute arises when one raises concern and other does not appreciate it or pay attention.
Both Parents Have Right Over Child
The Court noted how Dhawan was not fighting for permanent custody of the child, but merely requesting to have his son with in India with him at the expense of his wife. The Court said,
Mother alone does not have right over the child, why then she is opposing the petitioner to meet his own child when he is not bad father to the child.
Her objection on expense might be justified and consequent objection might be alright but her unwillingness may not be justified. She has not be able to put forth what her fear is about the petitioner qua the child and why she approached the court in Australia to put him in watch list.
If petitioner had intended to take law in his hand for taking the custody of the child he would not have approached the court in India. Once her fear is not clear her objection to allow the petitioner to meet his child cannot be appreciated.
Concluding the matter, Judge Harish Kumar said that on one hand, Aesha claims to understand the important role of Dhawan in the child’s life, and on the other, she is objecting to bringing the child to let him meet his father and grandparents. The Court added,
If father has an important role in the life of the child it is equally important for her to provide him with opportunity so as to allow him to inculcate in the child the values he considers important.
The respondent (Aesha) being originally Indian should definitely understand the role of other family members in the life of the child as well.
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#ShikharDhawan Child Custody Case— Voice For Men India (@voiceformenind) June 9, 2023
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