A five-judge Bench of the Madras High Court has held that the Court has original jurisdiction to hear child custody and guardianship matters..While Justices R Mahadevan, M Sundar and AA Nakkiran ruled to this effect, Justices PN Prakash and Anand Venkatesh ruled against the High Court's original jurisdiction in such matters..In October 1989, a full-bench of the High Court in Mary Thomas v. Dr KE Thomas had held that the original jurisdiction of the High Court in respect of such matters would not be ousted by Section 7 or any other provisions of the Family Courts Act, 1984..The reference to the five-judge Bench had been made following a query raised by now retired Justice V Parthiban while dealing with a child custody case. Justice Partibhan, who was at the time presiding over a single bench, was of the opinion that child custody cases and guardianship matters belonged to the realm of family courts and not the High Court..The issue was initially referred to a three-judge Bench. Subsequently, the present five-judge Bench was constituted to answer the following questions:(i) Whether the jurisdiction of the High Court, on its Original Side, over matters of child custody and guardianship was "ousted," in view of the provisions of Explanation (g) to Section 7(1) read with Sections 8 and 20 of the Family Courts Act, 1984?(ii) Whether the decision of a Full Bench of this Court in Mary Thomas Vs. Dr KE Thomas (AIR 1990 Madras 100) continued to be a good law?.On Friday, the majority members of the five-judge Bench held that the High Court's concurrent jurisdiction over child custody and guardianship cases remained unhindered."Though we have all penned separate judgments, the majority view is that we concur that jurisdiction of the High Court on the original side over child custody and guardianship petitions is not ousted," the Court said. "The answer to the second question, again through a majority decision, is that Mary Thomas continues to be good law," it added.