An NRI couple’s dispute over the custody of children has come to an end after the Gujarat High Court ordered the father to send them back to their mother. The court ruled that the father should take their three children back to the mother in New Zealand before March 25.
Their father brought the children to India on the pretext of attending social functions and enrolled them in Indian boarding schools. The father, who had been living in New Zealand since 2002, refused to take them back to their mother though a New Zealand Court had directed so.
According to reports, the couple got married in India in 2010, after which his wife joined her husband in New Zealand, and then she delivered to a son. But the husband brought the child to India in 2015 for a family function and never took him back.
Later, the couple had twins who were also taken away by their father to India in 2017. He wanted his kid’s upbringing with his mother and sister. Though the mother had been demanding to bring her kids back, he enrolled them in a boarding school at Mehsana in Gujarat.
Though the mother had been fighting for custody of her children, a local court had rejected her application. In 2018, she moved to the New Zealand high court after learning that her husband had moved to New Zealand. Though the court ordered the father to return the children to New Zealand, declaring that their removal and retention in India was completely illegal and wrong, he decided not to heed the Court order.
He had continued to keep the children away from their mother and got them admitted to a Bengaluru boarding school. And in 2020, the woman approached the Gujarat High Court and sought custody of her children.
After a years-long legal battle, the court observed: “Children would need both the parents and while spouses can cease to act as husband and wife, they cannot cease to be parents ever.”
The court has also ordered the father to take the children to New Zealand within eight weeks or arrange their return by providing air tickets. Also, the children’s custody needs to be handed over to the mother in the presence of a barrister appointed by the New Zealand High Court.
He has been told to take the children there before March 25. If he is not ready to furnish travel details to his wife’s lawyer, it will be assumed that he has no intention of travelling, and in that case, handing over of custody to the mother will have to take place in the presence of the Gujarat High Court registrar (judicial) by February 25, the court added.
The High Court has also said that the mother, if she wishes, can come down to India to take custody, but the father would have to bear the expenses. Further, the court added that she could also appoint a trusted person to take the children back to New Zealand if the mother wants.