Decided on March 03,1969

Vegesina Venkata Narasiah Appellant

Referred Judgements :-



VENKATESWARA RAO,J. - (1.)This appeal and cross objections are directed against an order of the learned District Judge, West Godavari, made in O.P. 91/64 on his file.
(2.)The petition was filed under Sections 7, 10 and 25 of the Guardians and wards Act VIII of 1890 by the father of a minor girl, Venkatalakshmi for an order directing the return of the child to his custody and also seeking to be appointed as guardian of her person and property alleging that it is not in her interests to continue to remain with her maternal grandmother, who already made an unsuccessful attempt to give away the child in marriage to her sister"s son in violation of the provisions of the Child Marriage Restraint Act and also because she has been trying her best to keep the child away from him. This petition was opposed by the grandmother of the child who filed canter denying the allegations made against her in the petitions and contending inter alia that her daughter, Venkata Satyavati, who was being ill-treated by her husband, the petitioner, died under unfortunate circumstances where after the petitioner married another woman and has been living with her and the children begotten by her and that the atmosphere in the petitioner"s bouse would not be conducive to the welfare of the child, whom she has been bringing up with great care and affection ever since her mother"s death, as it is only natural that she cannot expect any love or affection from the step-mother. After enquiring into the matter, the learned District Judge appointed the father of the child as property guardian and the grandmother as guardian of her person having felt that it is the best course to be adopted in the interests of the minor and he also directed that the child shall be taken to her father"s house and left there once every week on Sundays till she attains the age of 11 Years and that the father shall make sufficient provision for her maintenance. Neither party felt satisfied with this order as the grandmother considers that the direction given by the Court below that the child should be taken to her father's house and left there on every Sunday would lead to complications and is, therefore, not in her interests while the father feels aggrieved that he is denied custody of the child and has been appointed guardian of the property alone and not person also. Hence the appeal and cross objections by the grandmother and father respectively of the minor.
(3.)I shall first deal with the cross-objections preferred by the respondent (father) who, an already stated, contends that the Court below went wrong in refusing to restore the child to his custody and appointing the appellant (grandmother) a guardian of her person, in preference to him notwithstanding that she is her natural guardian and nothing is made against him to render him unfit to be the guardian of the person of the minor. The respondent"s wife died leaving Venkata Lakshmi, hardly 8 months old. The respondent admittedly settled about 7 acres of valuable laud on his daughter, Venkata Lakshmi within a few months after the death of her mother, Satyavati, and it is also an undisputed fact that the appellant, who too belongs to the same place as the respondent, has been bringing up the minor girl ever since the death of Satyavati. The respondent"s case is that he allowed his mother-in-law to take the child with her, shortly after he lost his wife as he was then in grief, on condition that the grill should be sent back to him when things settled down and that contrary to this arrangement the appellant not only did not send back the girl to him in spite of demands after he settled down to new life by marrying again but went to the extent of not permitting him even to see the girl and that she also made an abortive attempt to give away the girl,even before she learnt to talk, in marriage to her sister"s son. It is on the other hand urged for the appellant that the alleged attempt by her to give away the girl in marriage to a near relation of hers is unsure and was only invented to get back custody of the child and that, in any view, it is not in the interests of the child to be restored to the custody of her father as Venkata Satyavati, who was being ill-treated by him during her life time, died under suspicious circumstances and also because the child cannot hope to receive the kind and affectionate treatment she requires at her age from her step-mother.

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