Try and reduce areas of friction: Delhi HC tells Ukrainian woman, allows her to meet son at court creche

The Delhi High Court Thursday told a Ukrainian woman, who was allowed to meet her three-year-old son, to “try and reduce areas of friction” after she had moved the HC accusing her ex-husband of “kidnapping” the child and bringing him to India illegally.

When the matter was called for hearing Thursday, both parties – the mother (along with the couple’s daughter) and the father – were present in person in court along with the minor boy.

The counsel appearing for the Ukrainian mother, Sravan Kumar, submitted before a division bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Amit Sharma that the interaction on Tuesday took place as directed by the HC, “however it would be better if the father is not present”. He said the mother tried to take some photos of her son which were deleted at the insistence of the father by the creche staff.

The counsel appearing for father, Harsh Gupta, submitted that there were some “media persons” who tried to take photos forcefully and were asked to leave the parking area of the creche by staff and also later blocked their way at the exit.

Kumar said the mother wanted to take his pictures for memories’ sake and even that was not allowed.

The High Court, however, said “the idea is for you to interact with your son”. It further observed, “You must try and reduce areas of friction. Child has to be in a stage where he is comfortable as sometimes children are traumatised”. Addressing the father’s counsel, the HC said, “Let mother meet the child”.

Kumar further said the mother be allowed to interact with the child till 5 pm today at the creche, which Gupta did not object to.

The HC thereafter observed, “We are informed at the bar that in pursuance to the direction made by this court in order… the (minor boy) has interacted with his mother and sister on November 22, 2022, till 4 pm. The parties are present before us in person today. The… minor boy’s father states that he has no objection if (the minor boy) is permitted to interact with mother till 5 pm today at HC creche. Directed accordingly. Parties are directed to appear before this court in person tomorrow at 2.15”. The matter is listed for November 25 at 2.15 pm for further consideration.

The HC Tuesday had told the father to ensure the boy spends time with the mother and sister and that he can remain present, asking the counsel for both parties to facilitate the interaction at the Delhi HC creche. The father stated that he had no problem, to which the bench said, “You shouldn’t have a problem. She is his biological mother.”

“We expect the parties to sit together so that the mother and sister are able to reunite with the son… It is very important,” Justice Mridul had remarked on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, the HC had directed the Delhi Police to locate the father and the minor child after the Ukrainian woman moved court claiming that he took her son out for a walk on March 27 and did not return.

The mother, a school teacher, had also submitted before the court although a Ukrainian court had already ruled the child’s custody in her favour after their divorce in 2021, the father took her son away without her consent. She said although the father was granted visitation rights by authorities, the court in Ukraine had decided that the “kid will stay with the mother as he is just three years old and is born in Ukraine”.

In his reply before the HC, the father had claimed his son is an Indian citizen and an “Indian citizen cannot be sent to a war zone area”. He further stated that his minor son has an Indian passport issued on July 9, 2020. He states that he brought his son “through proper channels after getting necessary approvals from officials of both countries” as Ukraine is in a war zone since February 22 and his son was “not safe in a country which is in the state of war”.

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