Ministry seeks suggestions related to “International Child removal”

The ministry for women and child development has put out in the public domain a “concept note” on issues related to civil aspects of International Child Removal. A

A multi-member committee led by Chairmanship Justice Rajesh Bindal, Judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court was set-up in February to study all aspects of the matter pertaining to Hague Convention on Child Abduction in detail and make its recommendation. Before it gives the final report the Committee has sought suggestions on the concept note and the various concerns raised.

The instances of an Indian citizen marrying an NRI or a person of Indian origin having citizenship of a foreign nation, popularly referred to as ‘transnational marriages’ are frequent and in abundance. However, sometimes, it so happens that the spouses fall apart and the marriage breaks down irretrievably. In many such cases, the spouses return to their families/extended families in India, seeking mental comfort for themselves and their children. However, such instances often land such estranged spouse in a situation of being perceived as abductors of their children in light of The Hague convention provisions.

In another situation where both the spouses may be Indians, residing in India, one of the spouses may move out of India along with the child born out of such wedlock after a breakdown of the marriage. In such situation, the issue of getting the child back from the foreign land assumes importance, in the process of redressing the grievances of the left behind spouse. In such cases, the signatory countries of the Hague convention can avail access to the Central authorities of the other contracting states to resolve such issues.

Another factor that deserves consideration, is that many times, on account of the broken marriages, often the complaint of child abduction is alleged against each other by the estranged spouse, to settle their personal scores.

With the rise in trans-national marriages and complexities involved in modern-day relationships, the protection of rights of parents and children involved has become a critical issue of National and International importance. The report of the committee once ready will steer further deliberations of the WCD ministry to recommend to the government of India on whether India should ratify the Hague convention and if it does how to ensure that the rights of the parents and child are not compromised in any way

Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction:

It is a multilateral treaty on custodial issues of children. The Convention seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of abduction and retention across international boundaries by providing a procedure to ensure their prompt return.

The convention is intended to enhance the international recognition of rights of custody and access arising in place of habitual residence and to ensure prompt return of the child who is wrongfully removed or retained from the place of habitual residence.

It seeks to return children abducted or retained overseas by a parent to their country of habitual residence for the courts of that country to decide on matters of residence and contact.

The convention shall apply to any child, up to the age of 16 years who is a habitual resident of any of the contacting states.

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