SC refuses to hear plea seeking woman’s release from parents’ custody, refers to case of Britney Spears

The 42-year-old spiritual practioner had claimed in his plea that his live-in partner was illegally detained by her parents.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to entertain a plea filed by a Kerala-based spiritual practitioner seeking the release of his 21-year-old live-in partner from the custody of her parents. The bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana also referred to the case of pop singer Britney Spears in the US court while hearing the plea.

The SC said that the 42-year-old petitioner is a married man with two children and has dubious antecedents, the Bar and Bench reported. The man had claimed in his plea that his live-in partner was illegally detained by her parents. He challenged the Kerala High Court judgment which had dismissed his Habeas Corpus plea seeking release of the woman. The HC had noted that the woman was not capable of making decisions on her own.

However, the court noted that the “antecedent of the petitioner does not inspire confidence” and that the “girl is in fragile state of mind and does not know what she is doing,” according to Bar and Bench.

CJI Ramana further said, “The mother of the petitioner also says she doesn’t trust her son. He is also involved in a POCSO case. How can we entrust the girl to this man?”

Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, who appeared for the petitioner, told SC that the girl is an adult and can decide for herself. He added that they were not seeking her custody but only wanted her to be released from her parents’ custody.

Following this, the apex court referred to the case of Britney Spears in the US and said it is an identical situation. “One week back, there was a case in America. There the laws and terms and culture are different. There, unless an adult gives a consent they can’t be given treatment. Now the entire family is on the roads because of that since a mentally unstable person cannot give consent,” Live Law reported quoting CJI.

He further noted that in this situation, the police have to come and interact and the family will face questions.

However, refusing to interfere in the matter, the SC asked the registrar of Kerala HC to have the district judge concerned examine the case, interact with woman and her parents, and file a report.

What did SC refer to the case of Britney Spears?

For more than 12 years, American pop star and actor Britney Spears has been under the conservatorship of her father Jamie Spears — while being a highly active pop sensation doing back-to-back tours, creating albums, striking deals with some of the biggest brands and judging a reality show.

It all started in January 2008 when Britney was taken to a hospital in the middle of the night for a psychiatric evaluation after she refused to return her children to the representatives of Kevin Federline, her ex-husband and father.

When the police arrived, she appeared to be under the influence of an unknown substance. Britney was later admitted to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Centre in Los Angeles. She lost custody of her two children after the incident.

Soon, her father Jamie filed a temporary conservatorship over Britney and was granted the rights along with his lawyer Andrew Wallet. Once out of the hospital, Britney held meetings with lawyers, not wanting her father to be the conservator. But the court decided that Britney was not capable of retaining and directing legal counsel on her own.

But in January 2018, she announced an ‘indefinite work hiatus’, cancelling a planned Las Vegas residency. In March 2019, Andrew Wallet resigned as co-conservator of her estate after 11 years. Britney admitted herself to a psychiatric facility the same month.

Right after Britney’s 2019 admission into a psychiatric facility, Britney’s Gram, a fan podcast, put out a voicemail from a person who claimed to be a paralegal on Jamie Spears’ legal team, alleging she was being held in the facility against her will and that the Las Vegas residency was cancelled by her father because she refused to take her medication.

The voicemail went viral and gave rise to #FreeBritney with support coming from American Civil Liberties Union and celebrities like Paris Hilton and Miley Cyrus, apart from protests outside the courts during the hearings.

In November 2020, the court-appointed Bessemer Trust as co-conservator of Britney’s estate alongside Jamie. The matter is still in court.

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