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Sindh High Court (SHC) suspends family court order granting girl’s custody to father

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has recently suspended a family court order with regard to handing over the custody of a minor girl to her father till further orders.

The direction came on an application filed by the mother of the girl against the family court order. The applicant’s counsel, Abdul Qayum Abbasi, submitted that the petitioner was the mother of a 13-year-old girl who was born out of wedlock between her and the respondent however the marriage was dissolved through Khula in 2016.

He submitted that the girl’s father had moved an application before a family court for the custody of the girl despite the fact that he had not even tried to have any meeting with her since 2011, and had already contracted a third marriage having two sons from that wedlock.

The counsel submitted that the respondent had filed an application for the custody of the girl which was dismissed however certain rights were given with regard to summer vacations and it was observed that any application in this regard would be decided on merit.

He submitted that the family court had on December 19, 2022, granted custody of the minor for three days to the father without hearing the counsel of the petitioner. He submitted that after passing of the said order, the petitioner went to the court for a weekly meeting but that meeting could not be convened as the presiding officer of the court was on leave and the court was also closed for winter holidays.

He submitted that the family court had allowed the contempt application of the father and directed the petitioner to hand over the custody of the girl through the SHO concerned.

He submitted that the family court had already passed appropriate orders with regard to visitation rights stating that the matter would be decided after considering the circumstances of the case.

The lawyer submitted that the impugned order was ill-conceived since it directed that the custody be handed out for three days despite the fact that there were no winter holidays. He submitted that this would be first time when the custody would be granted for whole night to the respondent and the mother was naturally reluctant to give such an opportunity to the father, who already had two sons from another marriage living in the same house.

A single bench of the SHC headed by Justice Zulfiqar Ahmed Khan after hearing the arguments observed that serious mis-application of judicial mind and failure to understand the facts and circumstances of the case was alleged.

The high court observed that the order of the family court ordered handing over the girl’s custody to the respondent father on the notion of winter holidays in February when there were no such holidays.

The bench observed that it had also been contended by the counsel that this was the first time the respondent was taking the custody of the girl for whole night, who would face two half-brothers and stepmother(s) and this was a matter of concern to the court.

The high court issued notices to the respondents and called their comments on March 16. In the meantime, the bench suspended the family court orders issued in December and February till the next date of hearing.

Source: The News