A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court has cautioned family courts against rejecting the claim of biological fathers for custody of their child on the ground of mere registration of crimes under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act against them.
Dismissing an appeal filed by grantparents from Palakkad seeking custody of their five-year-old ward, the Bench observed that there had been a growing tendency in recent years to foist false crimes on biological father alleging sexual abuse of his own child by misusing the provisions of the POCSO Act, when serious fight for custody of ward was on before family courts.
The court added that unless a very cautious approach was adopted by family courts to ensure that information on which crime was registered was not frivolous and vexatious, many an innocent parent fighting for custody of their own ward would be victim of false implication in crimes under the POCSO Act.
The court said that family courts had an onerous responsibility to ensure that the registration of crime against a parent was not a ruse for defeating his legitimate claim for custody of the ward.
The family courts ought to examine the outcome of investigation of the crime placed before the court and also take into consideration all relevant facts and circumstances which would help the Judge form a prima facie opinion as to whether the allegation of sexual abuse of the ward was baseless or not.
Unless there were reliable materials to convince the allegation of sexual abuse, mere registration of crime shall not be reckoned as a ground for rejecting the claim of the parent for custody of the child.