HC dismisses Sri Lankan's plea seeking custody of kids living in India

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Mumbai, Apr 27 (PTI) The Bombay High Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition filed by a Sri Lankan national seeking custody of his two minor children living in India with his estranged wife, noting that it was in the best interest of the children to continue living here.

A division bench of Justices S S Shinde and Manish Pitale gave its judgment on the petition filed by 49-year-old Chandima Wijesinghe, seeking a direction to his estranged wife to hand over custody of their two minor children to him.

Dismissing the petition, the court in its order noted that it is in the children's best interest that they are not torn away from their mother in the present circumstances.

The court, however, said the father should be given visitation rights whenever he comes to India to meet the children.

The petitioner could also interact with the children on telephone via audio or video call on weekends and school holidays, the court said.

As per the plea, the couple got married in 2010 and started living in the US, before moving to Sri Lanka, where differences and marital discord grew between the duo.

The man, in his plea, said there are complaints and petitions filed in the appropriate court in Sri Lanka over the children's custody.

According to the petitioner, in 2017 a court in Sri Lanka had permitted his estranged wife to take their children to India for two weeks to meet their grandmother.

As per the petition, the wife has been living in India since then with the children and has refused to return or participate in the courts in Sri Lanka.

The bench in its order noted that the children were three years old and younger when they came to India and have been here since 2017 and were attending school.

The court also refused to accept the petitioner's contention that a court in Sri Lanka has ordered for the children to be in his custody.

'The children are now about six and seven years old pursuing their education in a school here. The school records of both children indicate that their progress is satisfactory,' the court said.

The bench also noted that when the judges interacted with the two children in their chamber, they unequivocally stated that they desired to stay with their mother in India.

The petitioner had failed to demonstrate that it is in the best interest of the children that their custody be handed over to him, the court further said. PTI SP ARU ARU