A Delhi court has ordered Aesha Mukerji, the estranged wife of cricketer Shikhar Dhawan, to bring their nine-year-old son to India for a family gathering observing that a mother alone does not possess exclusive rights over a child.
The duo has initiated legal proceedings in both India and Australia regarding divorce and child custody.
Justice Harish Kumar of Patiala House Courts reprimanded Mukerji for objecting to bringing the child to India.
The family court was informed that Dhawan's family has not seen the child since August 2020.
Initially scheduled for June 17, the family reunion was postponed to July 1 to accommodate the child's school vacation. However, Mukerji objected again, claiming that the event would be unsuccessful as many extended family members were not consulted about the new date.
The judge observed that even if Dhawan did not consult his extended family, it would not have serious consequences, as some family members might not be able to attend the gathering.
The judge acknowledged that the child has not visited India since August 2020, and Dhawan's parents and other family members have not had the opportunity to meet the child.
Therefore, the judge deemed Dhawan's desire for the child to meet his grandparents as reasonable.
The judge questioned Mukerji's reasons for not wanting the child to be familiar with Dhawan's home and relatives in India.
Considering the child's school holiday and the fact that the child is comfortable with Dhawan, the judge found his request for the child to spend a few days in India to be realistic.
The judge noted that Mukerji's concerns about the child's comfort in meeting Dhawan were not raised during the proceedings for permanent custody and that both parties were blaming each other for the litigation.
"Blame for polluting the environment within the family has to be shared by both. Dispute arises when one raises concern and another does not appreciate it or pay attention," the court said, adding that mother alone does not have right over the child, why then she is opposing the petitioner to meet his own child when he is not a bad father to the child.
The court clarified that Dhawan was not seeking permanent custody of the child in the current application, but merely wanted to have the child in India for a few days at Mukerji's expense.
The court said, "Her objection on expense might be justified and consequent objection might be alright but her unwillingness may not be justified. She has not been able to put forth what her fear is about the petitioner qua the child and why she approached the court in Australia to put him in watch list. If the petitioner had intended to take law in his hand for taking the custody of the child he would not have approached the court in India. Once her fear is not clear, her objection to allow the petitioner to meet his child cannot be appreciated."
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