“No one would like to protect a child molester, but generic and unfounded allegations against a parent of the opposite s*x must be dissuaded,“ said a family court judge recently while deciding a Pune businessman's plea for the custody of his minor daughter. The co urt held that the wife had made allegations against the husband without any proof of s*xual abuse of their daughter.
It cautioned child counsellors to be meticulous since “erroneous reports“ used to keep a child away from a parent could be harmful to the youngster's welfare. A family court judge, whi le deciding a custody plea recently , held that the mother had made allegations of s*xual abuse of the child against the father, without producing any proof.
It cautioned counsellors to be meticulous since “erroneous reports“ used to keep a child away from a parent could be harmful to a child's welfare.
“If these allegations are well-founded, it is a matter of grave concern. If these allegations are not well-founded, then too it is a matter of grave concern,“ judge Swati Chauhan of Pune family court said in her order passed earlier this month. However, since 10 years have passed following the couple's separation and the girl, now 15, has all along lived with her mother, the court rejected the father's custody plea, saying it would be inappropriate to disrupt her life now.
“There can be no doubt that the contemporary child custody fight can pose very intricate, complex and sensitive issues which need expert handling,“ said the judge. She noted that despite having access orders, the father, a 52-year-old busi nessman from an upscale area in Pune, barely got to meet the child, even in court premises, as the mother routinely flouted the orders saying the child did not wish to meet him.
“To allow such unfounded allegations to become successful in alienating a parent from children is harmful for the well-being of society ,“ the judge said. Observing it was the court's duty to “gradually repair the broken bond between a father and a daughter“, the judge directed telephone access for two hours daily .The child is at liberty to meet the father any time, she added.
The man had filed a petition in 2010 for the custody of his only child, then aged nine. The wife, 37 years old, opposed it and claimed the father had inappropriately touched the child when aged between three and five.
“A trend of false allegations for vested interests may create alarm amongst parents of the opposite s*x. Tender aged children would be robbed of affectionate gestures of parents like hugging, kissing, sitting on their shoulders, sleeping in their arms, a playful pat on their buttock, the fun of get ting a bath or shower. Unfounded and baseless allegations may disrupt a very pure, affectionate, pious and innocent thread of parents with their young ones. Parents and children both will lose the bliss of childhood nostalgia,“ said the judge.
The couple had a “love marriage“ in 2000 and separated in 2006. The husband succeeded in a plea for restitution of conjugal rights in the Pune family court earlier in 2010.
After sending the child to a therapist at a civic hospital in Mumbai, the court discar ded the allegations of s*xual abuse aga inst him. The wife challenged that order in challenged that order in the Bombay high court, whe re it is pending.
Later in 2010, the husband moved court for custody , alleging it was a “classic case of parental alienation syndrome (PAS)“. He alleged that the mother played an “active role“ in alienating the child from him since their separation in 2006 by indulging in a “typical pattern of false allegations, called “s*xual allegations in divorce syndrome (SAID)“.
The wife alleged that he took a video of the naked tiny tot, carried her on his shoulders, touched her, sang “s*xy songs“ to her and allegedly showed his nude self. The girl, in her interview, in what the judge said was a “very tutored way“, deposed: “My mother has never restrained me from meeting my father“. But she said she did not want to meet him.
The court relied on the testimony of a private child counsellor whom the mother had taken the child in 2006. The counsellor admitted in court that she had not followed all the guidelines and protocols before concluding that the father had abused the child.
“The court reckons the evidence of an expert witness as a torch in the dark to detect the truth. Sexual abuse of a child by a parent is a serious and sensitive issue,“ said the judge.
The judge concluded, “There is absolutely no reliable forensic, documentary or even secondary evidence produced by the mother to prove the very grave allegation of child s*xual abuse raised by her.“
The mother was unable to explain to the court why she was silent earlier and despite her allegations, in 2006, she had made four attempts to call him back home.