HC raps man for false claim that he, minor daughter faced racial discrimination by Dutch wife's kin

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Mumbai, Feb 8 (PTI) The Bombay High Court has deprecated a man for claiming that he illegally brought his minor daughter to India from the Netherlands last year as both of them faced racial discrimination there by the family members of his estranged wife, a Dutch national.

A division bench of Justices A S Gadkari and Shyam Chandak in an order passed on Wednesday said the plea of racial discrimination adopted by the man was "completely hollow and was a sham plea".

"India is undoubtedly known for its zero tolerance policy towards racial discrimination. The man has lowered the image of India and its citizens in the view of the petitioner (woman) and her fellow nationals," the court said.

Such conduct was unethical, it added.

The court was hearing a petition filed by the woman, a Dutch national, seeking custody of her five-year-old daughter to be handed over to her.

As per the plea, the woman's former husband violated an order passed by a court in the Netherlands, which had granted her custody of the child. The man allegedly brought the child to India from the Netherlands in August 2023 and refused to return the child to the woman. He later filed a petition in the family court in Mumbai seeking permanent custody of the child.

The man had claimed that he and his daughter were subjected to racial discrimination and hence the child has now developed a fear and was not willing to return to the Netherlands.

The high court noted that this claim of racial discrimination was a "sheer afterthought" and adopted by the man only to defeat the orders passed by the Dutch court.

The bench directed the man to hand over custody of the child to her mother so that she could be taken back to the Netherlands.

The court noted that if the return of the child to Netherlands to her mother was declined, then there was a possibility of polluting the mind and thoughts of the child against her mother to such an extent that the child would think her own mother deserted her.

"This is the doctrine of 'Parental Alienation Syndrome' that is the efforts made by one parent to get the child to give up his/her own positive perceptions of the other parent," the HC said.

It added that this puts the child in the middle of a loyalty contest and then makes the child to blame one parent.

The woman in her plea said the child has been living with her since birth in the Netherlands and that the child too is a Dutch national by birth.

The bench in its order said the overriding consideration in such cases must be the interest and welfare of the child and while deciding this, the view of one parent alone cannot be taken into consideration.

"The court should decide the issue of custody only on the basis of what is in the best interest of the child," the HC said.

The bench noted that the child in the present case was born in the Netherlands and has been living there with her mother till she was brought to India by her father last year.

"There is great physical, mental and emotional bonding between the mother and child. Both need the company of each other. This is very important for a girl child of the tender age of five years," the HC said.

The court noted that the child has been in India only since August last year and has not set her roots here yet.

The bench concluded that the man violated the order passed by the court in the Netherlands and detained the child with him illegally. "Therefore, the child deserves to return to her country," it said.

The high court said the man and the woman shall abide by the order passed by the Dutch court with regard to visitation rights.

"The child is of a tender age and thus requires equal support of both parents to see that she grows under the umbrella of diverse tradition and culture of the two countries and steps into the world as a respectable person," the HC said. PTI SP NP