A woman who stood trial on charges of killing her stepson but was acquitted has been told by the Supreme Court to win the trust of her own sons before seeking their custody from her divorced husband. Both the boys had deposed against her.
‘The better course would be that the mother should first be allowed to build up her relationship with them (her own children) and slowly and gradually restore her position as their mother,’ ruled a bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice T.S. Thakur.
The woman, Maya, was seeking custody of her sons – Gaurav, 11, and Saurav, 9, who live with their father Prakash in Maharashtra. But the bench rejected her plea for the time being.
The court gave the ruling after meeting the two boys to know if they were willing to live with their mother. The bench found that the two children wanted to stay with Prakash. It was also surprised by the fact that the older boy did not even know his mother’s name.
Taking note of Maya’s plea, the court granted her limited access to her sons – on alternate Saturdays and during three long vacations in a year – for the next six months after which it will take a final decision on whether to give her their custody.
‘In the aforesaid facts and circumstances, we are of the view that if the children are forcibly taken away from their father and handed over to the mother, it will only traumatise them and it will not do any good to anybody,’ said the bench while reversing an order by the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court, which had given the children’s custody to Maya on her petition.
The apex court ruling came on an appeal by Prakash, a resident of Bhusawal on the outskirts of Mumbai, who had married Maya after her elder sister – who was his wife – died in 1994 leaving behind their two-and-a-half-year-old son Pappu.
When Pappu was 11-and-a-half years old, he died after falling into a well close to his house July 15, 2003. The incident took place while Prakash was away. He suspected that Maya killed Pappu.
He lodged a complaint with police and Maya had to face a criminal trial on charges of killing her stepson. Though she was acquitted, during the court proceedings her two sons deposed against her.
Pappu’s death and ensuing criminal trial of Maya resulted in her divorce from Prakash, who also secured their two sons’ custody from the lower court. Later, Maya approached the high court which gave the children’s custody to her.
Prakash moved the apex court against the high court ruling. The apex court has now set aside the high court’s ruling and has put Maya on probation to build up her relationship with the two boys.