HIV-positive mother gets child custody

May 13th, 2008 - 9:06 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 13 (IANS) A smile lit up Sunita Verma’s face as she got her two-year-old boy back after nearly a year thanks to the Delhi High Court which Tuesday ruled in her favour despite the fact that she is HIV-positive. Justice Gita Mittal also appointed an activist who will look after the child on a regular basis. She also ordered that the child undergo a medical test Thursday at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

Sunita approached the court as her in-laws refused to give her the child after her husband Satish died of AIDS.

The judge had last week ordered Sunita’s in-laws to bring the child in the court so that he could be handed over to the mother.

“There is no law which can deprive a mother of her child because of AIDS,” Justice Mittal said when counsel for the in-laws contended that the boy’s custody must not be given to the AIDS patient mother.

“You are only grandparents while she is the mother. She is already suffering. Why do you want to make her suffer more by depriving her of the custody of her child?” the judge said.

The court rejected arguments of Sunita’s father-in-law Ram Gopal Verma, his wife Phoolwati and other family members and directed them to bring the child before it.

The in-laws then pointed out that their daughter-in-law was of “bad character” as she was suffering from the disease prior to her marriage and it would have bad influence on the child.

The court, however, took strong exception to the argument and said the disease was not inflicted only through physical relations but could also be transmitted due to blood transfusion.

“It is unfortunate that after losing her husband she has been deprived of her child. She cannot be deprived of the custody of her child just like a convicted father cannot be deprived of the custody of his child,” the court said.

Earlier, Sunita was allegedly thrown out of her in-laws’ home barely 13 days after her husband died due to AIDS last year.

The woman, now living with her old and ailing parents at Sagarpur in southwest Delhi, alleged that her son, who is not infected with HIV, was forcibly taken away by her in-laws the very day the last rites of her husband were performed.

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