Saturday's verdict from the Family Court was the second verdict in her favour.

Court rules in Chennai womans favour but her in-laws still refuse her custody of her son Image: Pachiammal
news Tuesday, April 12, 2016 - 16:12

Even though the Family Court in Chennai on Saturday ruled in favour of a 39-year-old woman and gave her custody of her 12-year-old son, she is unable to get custody of child from her recently-deceased husband’s family.

On Saturday, the Family Court ruled in favour of Pachiammal stating that only the child’s mother has the right over the child.

But she has still not received custody of her child. Police are reportedly claiming that the child has been taken for “counselling” and her husband’s family lawyer is claiming that they would not accept the judgement as they were not present in the court on Saturday because of her husband D Rajendran’s death, which occurred on April 8.

“The advocate and the police are saying that after the counselling is over, they will ask the child where he wants to go, if he says he wants to be with the mother, we will send him. If he says, he wants to be with my husband’s family and I refuse that, he will be sent to a children’s home,” said Pachiammal.

Pachiammal claims that her husband, D Rajendran’s family only want custody of her son because of her late husband’s property. Her struggle for her son Vijay Akash began around the time he turned two years old in 2005.

Pachiammal says that she was not even allowed to be around her child. “They would not let me feed the child or take him to school. They would say, ‘Don’t speak in Tamil, speak in English, we want the child to learn English’,” said Pachiammal.

She feels that all of these strictures were pretexts to keep her away from her child. She alleges that she was often beaten up and shut inside a room for days. “My husband’s mother and sisters would fight with me, beat me up and shut me inside a room for 15 days without giving me food and water. I would ask them, ‘Why are you doing this to me?’ They would reply saying, ‘We want you to run away from our house’.”

When she told them that she would not run away from the house since it was her house, she says, they told her, “How dare you call our house your house.”

She adds that her husband wouldn’t support her even through the worst of it. “He will only listen to what his sisters and mother will tell him. He never used to say a word against them,” said Pachiammal.

She primarily accuses her brother's sisters Ramila Devi and Vasantha Kumari for all the torture.

Narrating one such incident, she said, “Once I was shut for more than 15 days and they did not even give me water. I was having water from the bathroom taps and my mother used to come once in a month and get me Horlicks.”

This was Pachiammal’s life for four years. But, says Pachiammal, her son was also often beaten up by the family members. “They would hit him saying that he is not studying properly,” she said.

In 2009, she says, she once heard her husband’s sisters and mother saying that they would claim that she is unwell and admit her in a hospital. “I was really scared. I was locked up in a room. I immediately threw a paper out of the window with my family’s phone number and asked a passerby to call my family. My family came running and my husband’s family threw me out of the house and locked up my son in a room,” she said.

Pachiammal was determined not to leave until she got custody of her child. But that was of no help. When she later went to the Vepery police station, they asked her to sign few agreements. She refused to sign as she felt the police were supporting her husband’s family.

In 2010, the Egmore Magistrate Court, after several hearings, ruled in her favour, directing the protection officer and police to ensure her residence rights, custody of her child Vijay Akash and financial support.

“I went to the Commissioner’s office with the judgement orders, and they directed me to the Vepery station. By the time I reached their house with the police, the family had already re-appealed the case at the court,” she said.

Pachiammal hails from Vanagram and her husband’s family from Pursawalkam. In 2002, she got married to  Rajendran.

After 2009, for seven years, Pachiammal was living in Vanagram attending all the court proceedings and working at TVS. “I would meet my son during the proceedings but he would not take anything from me as he would be beaten up at home if he did,” she said.

On April 8, 2016, she got the news of her husband’s death. She says she doesnt even know how her husband died. “I went to see my husband’s body but they did not allow me to be part of last rites or be with my child,” she said.

Meanwhile Pachiammal’s struggle seems endless, despite two successive court verdicts in her favour.

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