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The Allahabad High Court has held that a man accused of killing his wife cannot be given custody of his minor children until he is acquitted by a competent court. The court also refused to grant visitation right to the accused father to meet the children. One Awadhesh Gautam filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, on behalf of his two minor children - Shaurya Gautam and Km. Dishi Gautam. He that a direction be issued by the Court, ordering Smt. Brahma Devi Tiwari (respondent no. 4/minors' maternal grandmother) and Sri Braddhanan Bal Ashram, Arya Samaj Jama Wala, Tilak Road, Dehradoon, Uttarakhand (respondent no. 5), to produce his two minor children-detenues before the Court and upon production, their custody be granted to him. Notably, Awadhesh Gautam's wife and the minors' mother, Poonam Gautam, died an unnatural death, regarding which, Awadhesh Gautam and four others of his family have been booked for her murder and for the destruction of the evidence.
The court after hearing observed that, “The totality of the circumstances on record shows that unless acquitted, it would not be appropriate to place the two minor children in their father’s custody. It is all the more so as the elder of the two minors, who can express an intelligent preference about the guardian he would like to be with, has ruled out the father. He is also fearful of the father.”