Ace tennis player Leander Paes has filed ‘a guardianship petition’ in the family court in Mumbai seeking permanent custody of his eight-year-old daughter from her mother and his estranged live-in partner Rhea Pillai.
In his 30-page petition, filed yesterday in the Bandra court, Paes alleges that Rhea’s “escapades, indiscreet and irresponsible behaviour, lack of personal maternal supervision, volatile temper and self-indulgence created insecurity in the child and was detrimental to a healthy upbringing”.
As per the law, custody of a child born to a couple in a live-in relationship generally goes to the mother, unless the father establishes that child’s upbringing would suffer in the mother’s care.
Paes’s petition claims that he would be a better parent than Rhea. It says that since the child’s birth, Paes attended to her and took care of the chores such as changing diapers, giving her a bath, packing her school bag and reading her bedtime stories before putting her to sleep.
Meanwhile, Paes has also approached the city police alleging that his daughter was in danger and she may be forcibly taken out of the country by Rhea.
Paes submitted an application to Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria, who forwarded it to Additional Police Commissioner Milind Bharambe to look into the matter, police sources said.
Paes has also urged the family court to restrain Rhea from taking the child out of the country.
His petition said his relationship with Rhea started in 2003 when they met on a flight, however, they never married “because Rhea did not believe in the institution of marriage due to a failed relationship experienced by her earlier”.
It alleges that Rhea told him wrongly in 2005 that she had divorced actor Sanjay Dutt, while the couple’s divorce by mutual consent came only in 2008 and Paes learnt about it only in 2013.