Allahabad High Court Declines Habeas Corpus for Visitation Rights Amid Matrimonial Disputes

Allahabad HC, in Mithilesh Maurya v. State of UP, dismisses habeas corpus petition for visitation rights amidst matrimonial disputes, emphasizes child's welfare.

The Allahabad High Court made a significant ruling regarding the issuance of writs of habeas corpus in cases involving visitation rights during pending proceedings between spouses. In a case presented before Justice Yogendra Kumar Srivastava, a husband had filed a habeas corpus writ petition seeking visitation rights. The court's decision was based on careful consideration of the legal principles surrounding habeas corpus petitions and custody disputes.

Justice Srivastava emphasized that while habeas corpus is a right, it is not automatically granted, especially when it involves disputes over child custody between parents. He stated, "A writ of habeas corpus, as has been consistently held, though a writ of right is not to be issued as a matter of course, particularly when the writ is sought against a parent for the custody of a child." The court underscored that habeas corpus writs would not typically be issued for visitation rights, especially when family court proceedings are ongoing.

The court highlighted the paramount importance of the child's welfare in custody matters, emphasizing the principle of parens patriae jurisdiction. This principle dictates that the court's role in custody cases is to prioritize the best interests of the child above all else.

Advocate Sandeep Srivastava represented the petitioners, while AGA Pankaj Srivastava appeared for the respondents. The case involved a wife leaving her matrimonial home with an infant while various legal proceedings under the Hindu Marriage Act, maintenance laws, and criminal statutes were pending between the parties.

During the proceedings, the petitioners' counsel argued solely for visitation rights, while the respondents' counsel contended that since the matter concerned visitation rights and ongoing matrimonial disputes were before the Family Court, a habeas corpus petition was not appropriate.

Considering the arguments presented, the High Court reiterated that in cases seeking custody of a minor through habeas corpus, the primary concern is whether the current custody is unlawful and against the child's welfare. It emphasized that habeas corpus proceedings are an extraordinary remedy, only warranted when ordinary legal avenues are insufficient or unavailable.

The court clarified that habeas corpus petitions are not suitable for determining custody disputes, especially when a detailed inquiry is necessary. Instead, it directed parties to seek resolution through appropriate legal channels. In this case, since the relief sought was limited to visitation rights, the court advised the parties to approach the Family Court, where the matrimonial disputes were being heard.

Consequently, the High Court declined to exercise its extraordinary jurisdiction and dismissed the habeas corpus writ petition. The ruling reaffirmed the importance of proper legal procedures and the role of family courts in resolving disputes related to child custody and visitation rights.