The Bombay High Court has refused to hand over the custody of a minor girl to her biological father, an Iranian national, after the surrogate mother alleged that he is "not of good character".
A division bench of Justices R V More and Anuja Prabhudessai was hearing a habeas corpus plea seeking direction to authorities to produce a person who could be in illegal detention.
The petition was filed by the girl's father, who urged the court to direct the Thane police to trace his three-year- old daughter.
The man, in his petition, claimed that his daughter's surrogate mother, whom he had married after she gave birth to the girl through surrogacy and later divorced, had illegally taken the child away from him despite a family court ordering the child's custody to be granted to him.
Following the directions, the Thane police last month produced the surrogate mother and the child before the high court.
The court said:
"We have interacted with the petitioner as well as the surrogate mother and the investigating officer. The interaction reveals there are allegations and counter allegations by both the parties against each other,"
The court noted that while the petitioner relies upon the custody order passed by a family court in Mumbai, the surrogate mother has submitted that the child should reside with her as the petitioner is "not of good character".
The high court last week perused the report submitted by the police and the superintendent of NGO Shanti Sadan Mahila Vastigruha, where the mother and her child were directed to be housed, pending hearing of the petition.
the court said:
"We are of the considered view that it would be in the interest of the child to keep her in a good in-house school or institution where all her needs including health, education, etc, will be taken care of and where both parents can have the right to visit the child,".
The HC has posted the petition for further hearing on June 16, by when the surrogate mother would have to tell the court if she is willing to put the child in such an institution. "The additional public prosecutor shall furnish the names of some good institutions/ boarding schools where the child can be housed/educated," the high court directed.