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When parents turn abductors PDF Print E-mail
(1 Vote)
Written by Deccan Chronicle   

Parental abduction of children which was rare earlier, is on the rise in the country especially among NRIs. As India does not recognise parental abduction as a crime, and with litigation cheaper, parents find it easier to fly here with their children if they want to keep the children away from the other parent, reports Shilpa P.

“It is two years since I saw my six year-old son Aditya. He’s my only son and I don’t know about his whereabouts, my ex-wife has abducted our child from the US. Every time I return to India from the US and get a lead on where she could be, she disappears,” said Dr V. Ravichandra, a US based scientist at a press conference. He and his wife divorced when in the US in 2005.

Both parents were given joint custody of their child. Dr Ravichandra makes serious charges against his former wife, claiming she has psychologically problems and has taken an ex-parte order from a court in the US to gain sole custody over their son.

The day after the scientist went public, his ex-wife Vijayashree, a software engineer, surfaced and in turn, accused her husband of abusing their child before dropping off the radar once again, leaving the father fuming.


SC order

The Ravichandra story is not unique.

Of the 3,600 divorce cases involving NRIs in 2008, at least half are fighting for custody of their child, and a good 10 per cent are Indians living abroad. Of these, many parents have ‘abducted’ their children and returned home to circumvent laws abroad.

Vasudeva Sharma, chairman, Child Welfare Committee says, there have been more than four parental child abduction cases before the CWC in 2008. “In at least two cases fathers had abducted the children,” he said.

“India does not recognise parental abduction as a crime, and is not a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which 45 countries have signed,” says senior advocate Hemalatha Mahishi.

“The Supreme Court in its several landmark judgments including, SC judgement 2000 Criminal Law Journalpage 1459-2000 Vol 1 FECR 915 and 1998 SC Case 112, states that the ‘court orders on child custody matters in foreign countries are not valid in India. They can only be one of consideration in the custody case filed in India and it is the welfare of the child which is of paramount importance’. Custody matters have to be decided here in Indian courts. And there is no finality in custody cases in the interest of the child in India,” Mrs Mahishi says.

In the recent custody case of the daughter of Chethana Kumble V/s Kumar V Jahgirdhar, following a writ, High Court of Karnataka has reiterated the SC order.

In case one of the parents does not abide by the court order, they can file a contempt of court case but cannot file parental abduction case here as in the US.

The police can do little, particularly if the child cannot be located.

“We can only look for the child, if the parent files a habeas corpus petition and court directs us to do so,” said a senior police official.

When the woman comes to India with her child, many a times the husband takes an ex-parte order of the sole custody of the child filing a parental abduction case citing that the mother is mentally ill. And the mothers usually file a dowry, Domestic Violence and 498A (Cruelty of Husband) cases which make their estranged husbands ineligible for custody.

“The mothers come to India for family support and litigation is cheaper. They file cases to ward off threats from the husband who can be arrested on arrival in India and his passport impounded,” says Mrs Mahishi.

Shiva Ravikumar Chaturvedi, a CEO with a software company in the US, flies to India every four months to fight for the custody of his daughters after a case under Section 48A was filed by his wife after she moved to India.

“These women fear that the father may brain-wash the children and that she may lose them,” says Mrs Mahishi.

According to Vijayashree: “My husband is a sadist. He abused my child sexually. He has money. He can buy the law”. My ex-husband is a scientist, I am scared that he may give some drug change my child’s mind,” she added.

“If it is assured that the father will meet the child without creating any prejudice in child’s mind, the court gives a visitation order,” Mrs Mahishi said.

“Parents should behave more sensibly and sit and sort out issues instead of becoming vengeful which ultimately affects the child,” advises Mrs Mahishi.


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