1. The parties to this appeal are mother and daughter. Each applied to the District Judge to be appointed guardian of the child of the younger woman, a girl born on the 25th December 1912. The petitions were heard together, with the result that the learned Judge came to the conclusion that the child's mother, Mrs. McQuillan, had been behaving in a manner in which no respectable married woman should, and that the interests of the child would be best protected by her being placed under the guardianship of Mrs. Chapman, her grandmother. The latter person has accordingly been appointed guardian and against this order Mrs. McQuillan prefers the present appeal.
2. The learned Judge rightly observes that the case is an exceedingly painful one and deplores the fact that that such a case should have come before a Court of Justice. At the suggestion of the learned Counsel for the parties we have ourselves endeavored to induce the parties to come to terms. Our efforts have produced no useful result. We must, therefore, consider whether on the evidence the learned Judge of the Court below has come to a right conclusion and whether the case is one in which the interests of the child require that the mother should be deprived of its custody.
3. It has been strongly urged by learned Counsel for the appellant that in these proceedings Mrs. Chapman has been actuated more by hatred of her daughter than by a desire for the welfare of the' child. It is true that there is a good deal of bitterness in Mrs. Chapman's attack, there is indeed bitterness on both sides. But we are satisfied that she is really anxious for the good of the child, who has lived in her house from early infancy.
4. The evidence, oral and documentary has been discussed before us at length. We do not propose to enter into its sordid details. It is enough to say that we are satisfied on it that the learned Judge of the Court below has justly appreciated the conduct of the appellant. This evidence clearly shows that shortly before the case was tried, she had been leading a very irregular life and that her conduct was such that it would be wrong to confide a child to her care.
5. It has been urged that the learned Judge has been unduly influenced by the fact that Mrs. Chapman is in more comfortable circumstances than her daughter and so able to give the child a pleasant home. We quite agree that the mere fact that the mother is unable to earn more than a small and possibly precarious income is in itself no reason for depriving her of her child. But the fact that Mrs. Chapman is able to keep the child in very suitable physical surroundings has weight in the consideration of the question whether she should be appointed guardian. In our opinion the learned Judge has not attached undue weight to this fact.
6. On a consideration of the whole evidence, we are of opinion that it is for the welfare of the child that it should, for the present, remain in the custody of its grandmother, Mrs. Chapman, even though her union with Mr. Chapman is irregular. 'We do not, however, say that Mrs. McQuillan has permanently forfeited all her natural right to the custody and society of her own daughter. We are informed that her husband, who is now a Sergeant in the British Army at present serving in Mesopotomia, is likely to return in the near future. There is evidence that he wishes that his wife should have the child, who was born during their wedlook; should Sergeant McQuillan and his wife lead a regular life together, a thing which it appears they have not hitherto done, the situation would be changed and it would be for the District Judge, on application to this end being made to him, to consider whether the changed circumstances would justify him in restoring the child to its parents. A similarsituation would arise if in course of time Mrs. McQuillan were in a position to satisfy the District Judge that she had otherwise permanently adopted a regular course of life. We note in this respect that it has been mentioned to us that she has recently taken up respectable work outside Calcutta.
7. We affirm the order of the Court below with this modification, namely, that reasonable opportunity be given to Mrs. McQuillan to see her child in Calcutta from time to time. We leave it in the first instance to the good sense of the parties and their friends to arrange how this is to be effected. If this method fails, it will be open to appellant to apply to the District Judge of Alipur who will in that event give directions on the point.
8. In the circumstances we make no order as to costs.