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Law panel working on rules to handle parental child abduction PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Excelsior   

NEW DELHI: The Law Commission has initiated the groundwork for putting in place guidelines to address cases of parental child abduction—a term used for incidents of one parent taking a child away from the other and escaping to a different country.

In view of the alarming rise in the number of such cases and the lack of any law for courts to rely upon, the Commission plans to bring together experts and officials of various ministries to debate the issue.

Commission chairman Justice A R Lakshmanan, on his own initiative, has now proposed to bring together officials from Law ministry, Home ministry, Women and Child Development ministry and Oversees Indian Affairs ministry to discuss issues related to inter-country parental child removal or abduction.

"India is being cited as a soft state for cases of parental child abduction and child abductors see it as a safe haven," he said, highlighting that such conflicts have acquired an alarming proportion since there is no statutory or codified law in India on the subject.

Since, India is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, courts here resolve such conflicts on a case to case basis, he said.

The Convention seeks to provide a speedy remedy for return of the abducted child to his or her country of habitual residence, he said adding that a one-day seminar involving all the ministries for discussion was being planned by the Commission.

Justice Lakshmanan said at present, in any case of parental child abduction, the custodial parent with whom the child was residing prior to the abduction is forced to go through the normal court process by filing custody petitions, which follow a long procedure before reaching a decision.

The parents left behind have also tried to invoke a speedier procedure for filing writs of habeas corpus in High Courts in various states and in Supreme Court, since these courts have powers to order a speedy relief in their writ jurisdiction, he said.

The courts tend to apply their own interpretations to the principle of the "welfare of the child", and these are often coloured by varying degrees of gender bias and by cultural preconceptions. All this makes it difficult for a person to recover the abducted child.

"The subject needs serious debate and involvement of different ministries," the Commission said while inviting the four ministries to give their inputs on the issue. (PTI)


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