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Court grants child's custody to father to avoid 'religious dilemma'

Dinesh Kadam (32) and Begum Khan (26) had met more than a decade back in Vile Parle (W). The neighbours became friends, and friendship promptly turned into love. Khan’s family was opposed to a union and allegedly even held her hostage for several months at her sister’s home in Malad. But all this resistance fell by the wayside and the couple tied the knot on April 30, 2002 after Khan converted to Hinduism.

The honeymoon didn’t last long. In July the same year, Kadam noticed that his wife had begun visiting her parents clandestinely. A month later she said she wanted to stay separately from her husband’s joint family.┬áKadam told her this was not possible, as his parents could not take care of his mentally-challenged brother alone.

On June 11, 2003, Khan gave birth to a son, Mohan, but allegedly never cared for him. In January 2004, she began working late hours. Kadam ostensibly requested her to leave her job in the interests of the child, but his wife ignored his wishes. Kadam has also alleged that Khan aborted their second child, a claim she has rejected.

Contradicting her word
On the other hand, when the matter went to court, Khan alleged that Kadam was having an affair with a girl, Padma, whom he had met in college. She also claimed that Kadam’s parents had mistreated her. But during cross-examination, she admitted that she was illiterate and had been educated by her father-in-law.

She also contradicted her own written statement when she admitted that her mother-in-law had taught her housekeeping, and that she had been treated with love and respect. She conceded that all her needs were taken care of and, in fact, it was her mother-in-law who willingly took care of her child while Khan was busy working.

Though she had claimed Kadam was having an affair, Khan had no evidence to prove this, and had not even seen the two together. Bandra family court judge PL Palsingankar concluded, “These admissions support the case of the petitioner…thus put the respondent in the dock.”

In keeping with ‘culture’
The court observed that Khan had behaved cruelly with her husband, and came to the question of who should have Mohan’s custody. Keeping in mind his welfare, the court observed, “He is born and brought up in a Hindu culture...After 10 long years of his life, the child will be in a dilemma over religion. Moreover [the wife] has not taken care of the child since birth till date, as is expected from a normal mother. She has lost her right to seek permanent custody of the child.” Khan was, however, allowed limited access to her son during vacations.

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