The Supreme Court has sentenced an Indian-origin Kenyan to one year imprisonment besides slapping a fine of Rs 25 lakh for civil and criminal contempt of court in a decade-long custody battle of his 11-year-old son.
Smriti Madan and her Kenyan husband Perry Kansagra have been locked in a legal battle for the cross-border custody of their child.
The child, who enjoys dual citizenship of Kenya and the United Kingdom, is an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI).
In 2020, granting permanent custody of the child to the father, who has a Kenyan passport, the top court had asked Perry Kansagra to obtain a “mirror order” from the Kenyan court within two weeks to take the child to Kenya.
Mirror orders are passed to safeguard the interest of a child who is in transit from one jurisdiction to another.
Later, Smriti Kansagra filed an application stating that the father got custody by allegedly giving a forged or wrong mirror order from the Kenyan High Court.
It was also alleged that he not only refused to obey the directions granting visitation or meeting rights to the mother, but also moved the Kenyan court for declaration of invalidity of Indian jurisdiction, Live Law reported.
The two-judge bench of Chief Justice U.U. Lalit and Justice P.S. Narasimha observed that Perry Kansagra had deliberately and with a clear intention committed egregious acts of contempt.
After Perry’s fraud came to light last year, the Supreme Court directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to bring the child back from Kenya and register a criminal case against the father. It also served a contempt notice to the father.
Perry has been punished with simple imprisonment for a term of six months along with a fine of Rs 12,50,000 for civil contempt of court for his acts of deliberate and willful disobedience of the orders passed by the Supreme Court.
He has to further serve a term of six months and pay a fine of Rs 12,50,000 for criminal contempt of court for obstructing the administration of justice and lowering the authority of this court.
In each case, in default, Perry shall further undergo simple imprisonment for one month, the top court ruled.
The court further clarified that these sentences shall be served consecutively and that the total fine of Rs 25,00,000 will have to be deposited by the contemnor in the registry of the court within four weeks and the same shall be released to Smriti Kansagra upon an application filed by her, Live Law reported.