‘Divorced father can have access to child through mail, phone’

PTI | | Updated on: Oct 24, 2012


The Bombay High Court has held that a divorced father is entitled to have access to his child, if not physically, at least through e-mail, chatting, telephone or through any other electronic media.

Justice Roshan Dalvi of the High Court also set aside an order of March 27 this year passed by a Pune Family Court rejecting plea of Gary Sewell, father, to have access to his child in the modes applied for in his petition.

Sewell said he was staying in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and that he has not even spoken to his child, who lives with his mother in Mumbai. The child has been in custody of mother since separation of parents in 2008. Sewell further said he had regularly paid maintenance to wife and child.

“The father is certainly entitled to have access to his child, if not physically, at least electronically, since he is residing in Jeddah and the child in Mumbai”, observed Justice Dalvi.

The Court also ruled that the child can first have access to his father through video conferencing under the supervision of a Court Officer and when a good rapport is established through this, they can communicate through e-mail, chatting, telephone or any such electronic media.

Holding that the father is entitled to know about the progress of his child in school, the judge directed the mother to provide all the reports and school certificates to the father within a week.

Copies of such reports shall be filed in the Court with a copy given to the child’s father. Also, the originals of such reports shall be offered for inspection to him, the court ruled.

However, the court rejected another prayer of the father that his mother (grandmother of the child) and his power of attorney may be allowed to establish communication with him and he may be allowed to talk to the child.

The court was of the view that the access between the father and the child is required to be direct and personal.

The grand mother or any other constituted attorney need not have anything to do with such access.

“Since there is no legal right for the grand mother or the constituted attorney of the father to have access that aspect need not be further considered. The unusual prayer of the father is rejected,” the judge observed.

The Court directed the Registrar to make arrangement for video conference between the father and the child on the first and third Saturdays between 4 PM and 5 PM on the premises of the District Court in Pune, where such facility is available.

The Court further directed that the mother shall bring the child for video conferencing in the court well before the appointed time. The judge also asked her to instruct and guide the child to have cordial and congenial conversations with the father for the stipulated one hour.

“The mother shall leave the room, where the video conference is arranged, so that the child can talk with the father alone. If this cannot be smoothly worked out, the conversation shall be supervised by a Court Officer, who shall be with the child during the period,” the Court ruled.

“The mother shall not be present in the room. Such video conference shall continue until further orders are passed by the Family Court,” Justice Dalvi observed.

Published on October 24, 2012
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