November 6, 2016: The Indian government is most likely to discard the proposed bill to deal with the “inter-parental child abduction” in India. Children of NRIs become victims of their parents’ marital dispute. The bill was drafted to protect these children by making India a part of the Hague Convention.
The Hague Convention seeks “to protect children internationally from the harmful effects of their wrongful removal or retention and to establish procedures to ensure their prompt return to the State of their habitual residence, as well as to secure protection for the rights of access.”
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The most important objective was the establishment of a central authority that would have all power to make decisions in such cases. The authority would be headed by a joint secretary level officer.
The authority would have the power to decide all the cases. It suggested the formation of a central authority, which would have the power to make decisions in such cases, led by a joint secretary level officer. Any child, who has been forcefully taken, would be voluntarily returned to their residence. The authority would provide administrative arrangements regarding the safe return of the child. The authority would also facilitate the stipulation of legal aid or advice.
The WCD Ministry uploaded the proposal to pass the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Bill on its website in June 2016. The Bill was placed to ask for suggestions from people. However, the bill has been removed from the website.
“But nothing happened. Issues related to children welfare are not a priority for us. It’s about time now. The intention is not to punish parents but to rebuild the family,” said Anil Malhotra, international family law practitioner.
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The WCD ministry seems to be firm on their decision.
“We are very clear that we are not signing the Hague Convention. This is a decision collectively arrived at by the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA),” said a senior WCD Ministry official.
The problem has now got even worse as the children of India are now being abducted and taken abroad where they cannot be traced or legally returned. Conflicting child custody issues after the families split across countries are dealt under different legal systems of different countries.
Presently, Ninety-four states are part of the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The idea of the agreement to the Convention came in 2007, but the bill failed before even reaching Parliament.
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Inter-parental child abduction is a considered a crime in countries like US and Europe. The accused parents face charges of abduction and can go to jail. Sri Lanka made its own rules that give the court power to determine if the child should be allowed to stay or sent back to the country from where he was abducted.
– Prepared by Diksha Arya of NewsGram with inputs from PTI. Twitter: @diksha_arya53