Saturday, January 9, 2010

Custody battle: HC grants 6-yr-old's wish to be with mother

AHMEDABAD: The custody of a six-year-old girl was handed over to her mother after she narrated the sordid tales of her father who was her legal custodian after her parents divorced. Oshiya presented her story before a Gujarat High Court judge, and in clear terms told the judge that she would like to stay with her mother. The little girl also told the court that she did not like her father's behaviour.

While she was narrating the accounts about her father, his lawyer entered the judge's chamber and the girl immediately changed her stand. The judge noticed that she felt intimidated. The lawyer was sent out of the room, and Oshiya was almost begging the judge that she would be more comfortable if she lived with her mother.

Oshiya is the only child of 28-year-old pharmacist Eshita Sitapara from Vadodara and Hiren Brahmbhatt, 44, who is facing 29 trials and is recently out of jail on bail. They got married in 2001 and the child was born in 2003. Immediately after Oshiya's birth, Brahmbhatt went to jail for various offences. When he came out on bail, the couple separated and as per the divorce decree, the girl's custody was to be given to her father.

However, within months, Eshita noticed that her daughter was not happy. Brahmbhatt was irregular in paying her school fees and the girl was complaining about her father's lifestyle. Eshita filed for Oshiya's custody in a family court, but did not get any support. She then approached the high court.

The case was heard by Justice Abhilasha Kumari, and Eshita's counsel claimed that because of Brahmbhatt's lifestyle and criminal background, the atmosphere in his house was not suitable for a minor girl. Her father's lawyer continued to defend the case, but the judge held that she would decide after meeting the little girl only.

During the meeting, the judge noticed that Oshiya was "an extremely intelligent and sensitive child. She was old enough to know her mind and could express her feelings". She unequivocally expressed her desire to live with the mother. Oshiya had clear answers when asked why she did not wish to remain with her father. "What the minor girl said, has shocked my conscience...she does not like the activities that go on at her father's house. She is scared and thinks that if her father comes to know about her views, she would face dire consequences," the judge put the exchange on record but added that the goings-on in Brahmbhatt's house, as described by the girl, could not be put on record.

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