SC allows woman to ‘make her choice’ to stay with father abroad

SC allows woman to 'make her choice' to stay with father abroad
The Supreme Court of India. (File Photo: IANS)

New Delhi:  The Supreme Court on Friday said it was not a “super guardian” as it allowed a woman, who is legally an adult, to stay with her father in Kuwait and pursue her career, rejecting the mother’s plea that she was in his illegal custody.

“The daughter is entitled to enjoy her freedom as the law permits and the court should not assume the role of a super guardian being moved by any kind of sentiment of the mother or the egotism of the father. We say so without any reservation,” said the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud.

“It needs no special emphasis to state that attaining the age of majority in an individual’s life has its own significance. She/he is entitled to make her/his choice. The courts cannot, as long as the choice remains, assume the role of parens patriae,” said the order pronounced by Chief Justice Misra.

The court order came after the woman, who became an adult on September 19, 2016, told the court that she was pursuing graduation from the Indira Gandhi National Open University and doing an internship in Huawei Technologies Kuwait Co. W.L.L. and wanted to go back to Kuwait to pursue her career.

She conveyed her choice in person as the court, in its earlier order, had asked her to be present in person.

The court was hearing a plea by Soni Gerry, the woman’s mother, who had alleged that her daughter was in illegal custody of her (Soni Gerry’s) husband Gerry Douglas.

The court did not accept the contention of the lawyer appearing for the mother that the woman’s “opinion was not an informed one as she has been pressurised by the father”.

“In such a situation, we are of the considered opinion that as a major, she is entitled to exercise her choice and freedom, and the court cannot get into the aspect whether she has been forced by the father or not,” the court said.

“There may be ample reasons on her behalf to go back to her father in Kuwait, but we are not concerned with her reasons. What she has stated before the court, that alone matters and that is the heart of the reasoning for this court, which keeps all controversies at bay,” the court said.

The court directed the husband to pay Rs 50,000 to Soni Gerry when their son comes to Kerala, where she lives, to spend his summer vacation with his mother. The son studies in Kuwait.

Earlier, the Kerala High Court had rejected Soni Gerry’s habeas corpus plea, holding that daughter has attained 18 years of age in 2016.