Around 98 countries are signatories to the convention that protects children under 16 from “wrongful removal or retention” by a parent.
In a scenario where as per Law Commission of India itself, 68% of the abducting parents are mothers, out of which 54% had gone home to a country in which they held citizenship; we wonder, how come India even think of not signing Hague Convention, that 98 countries, including Pakistan and Sri Lanka have signed.
Since the abducting parents in the majority of cases are mothers, feminists have maintained that under the Indian law, it has been well established that parents are the natural guardians of their children, so there is no question of treating them as “abductors” under Indian law; feminists claim that if such laws were to be passed in India, it would amount to complete abdication of responsibility towards Indian children by the Indian Government; feminists claim that this is a gross invasion of the privacy of the child; and that too by a no-judicial body, without any countervailing rights given to the child’s de facto custodial parent in order to balance the powers of the Central Authority; feminists claim that the Hague Convention fails to take into account the needs and best interests of the child.
Our country already has many fatherless children and not signing the convention is likely to further increase the number of fatherless children in society!
The government is unlikely to sign in near future an international treaty that makes inter-country abduction of children by parents a punishable offence, two Union women and child development (WCD) ministry officials have said.
Signing the Hague convention on civil aspects of international child abduction would be against the interest of women who flee bad marriages, they said.
India needs to have a domestic law in place before joining the treaty. “But the Union women and child ministry has decided against drafting a domestic law to address the civil aspects of international child abduction,” one of the officials said.
Around 90 countries are signatories to the convention that protects children under 16 from “wrongful removal or retention” by a parent. It also mandates that the country to which the parent flees with the child has to send back both to the child’s “habitual place of residence”.
There has been a steady rise in parental abductions as more and more Indians go abroad to work or study. Children bear the brunt of parents’ marital disputes and are often forced to return to India by one of the quarrelling parents. In most cases, it is the mother who returns with the child.
“Instead of framing a domestic law, we have decided to put in place an internal mechanism to redress all such complaints that come to us from women who have run away from a violent marriage and returned to India with her children,” a second official said.
The ministry is setting up a panel headed by the chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). Its members will include a representative of the embassy of the country from where the parent has fled with the child. “We will forward any complain that comes to us to the NCPCR committee, which will examine the case,” the second official said.
Based on the recommendations, the WCD secretary-led nodal agency that looks into NRI marital disputes would pass a speaking order that would help the woman in her legal battle in India as well as abroad.
Last year, the ministry set up a committee under justice Rajesh Bindal of the Chandigarh Judicial Academy to examine the issue of international child abduction. In its report, the panel suggested against joining the Hague convention.