By LE Desk

Mumbai, May 4: The Bombay high court has rejected a Sri Lankan national’s plea saying his estranged wife has lost the right to retain custody of their minor children because of her “improper conduct” of keeping them in India in defiance of the order of a Sri Lanka court and refusing to accept its summons.

The couple got married in March 2010 and lived in the US, where their first child was born in 2013. The second child was born in 2014 in India. The discord started after the couple shifted to Sri Lanka in 2015.

The husband said the woman brought the children to India (Thane) on the basis of a district court order of October 3, 2017, ostensibly for two weeks, and did not return to Sri Lanka thereafter. He said the district court order was stayed by a Sri Lankan high court on October 10.

The Bombay high court said its focus, as per settled law, was on the best interest of the children. “We find the children appear to be comfortable with their mother in India. Their progress report appears to be satisfactory and merely because there are orders passed by a foreign court against their mother, according to us, that would not disentitle her from continuing with their custody,” the High Court said, as reported by the Hindustan Times.

The court rejected the petitioner’s emphasis on the question of the identity of the children as Sri Lankan nationals. It said the Supreme Court has held that factors such as citizenship of the children pale into insignificance while determining what is in their best interest for the purpose of custody. 

“…the fact that children are Sri Lankan citizens, and the elder child is also an American citizen cannot be a deciding factor insofar as the relief sought in the petition is concerned,” the HC said.

The Bombay high court noted the two children have been admitted to a school in Thane. It added they “appeared to have developed roots” and have also become conversant with the local language and adjusted to the school.

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