India will not ink Hague treaty on civil aspects of child abduction

The government’s view is contrary to the recommendations given by the Law Commission, which endorsed acceding to the Hague convention.

Written by Shalini Nair | New Delhi | Published:November 27, 2016 12:47 am
Hague, Hague treaty, child abduction, Hague treaty child abduction, india, india hague treaty, maneka gandhi, india news The decision was taken by Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi and has been agreed to by the Ministry of External Affairs. (File/Express Photo)

After much deliberation, the Union government has decided that India will not ratify the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (1980). Signing the multilateral treaty would have meant that the government will have to send back women, who have escaped bad marriages abroad and brought their child along with them to India, back to the country of the father’s residence.

The decision was taken by Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi and has been agreed to by the Ministry of External Affairs. The government’s view is contrary to the recommendations given by the Law Commission, which endorsed acceding to the Hague convention. It has even suggested a jail term of one year for a parent of foreign origin living in India who takes away the child without the consent of the other unless it is a case of domestic violence.

“We found that there are more cases of Indian women who return to the safety of their homes in India after escaping a bad marriage. Cases of women who are foreign citizens, married to Indian men, going away with their children are far fewer. Hence signing the Hague Convention would be to the disadvantage of Indian women. Also, a majority of such cases pertain to women instead of men running away,” said a WCD official. The Law Commission’s report too cites data showing that 68 per cent of the parents who took their child away were mothers, where 85 per cent of these mothers are the primary caregivers of their children across the globe.

According to the WCD Ministry, the matter of ratifying the Hague Convention was taken up following lobbying by groups in the United States and certain European nations. The pressure from the developed countries to get India to be a signatory to the treaty was based on gender equality and the idea that the father should have equal rights to the child as the mother. “But that doesn’t apply here given the reality of Indian marriages,” said the official.

Ministry officials point out that in some of the cases before them, husbands have procured orders from US courts which could translate into the woman being arrested the minute she goes back to the foreign country. “If we ratify this, we would have to send the woman and the child back immediately as the act of escaping with the child is treated as abduction. This strips them of the protective cover they have in their own country,” said the official. Since India is not a signatory, it is presently the father who has to come to the country to take legal recourse in Indian courts if he wants to claim custody of the child.

The Law Commission has in its March 2009 report titled ‘Need to accede to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 2009’ advised that the Union government should be a signatory to the treaty. This year, the WCD Ministry issued its draft Civil Aspect of International Child Abduction Bill, 2016. The present Law Commission took up the matter of fine-tuning the draft after the Punjab High Court, while hearing a related matter, observed that there is a need to examine “inter-country, inter-parental child removal”.

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  1. K
    Kunuthur Srinivasa
    Feb 9, 2017 at 6:22 am
    There is no pointing that the left behind parents abroad in wasting time, energy and resources blaming GOI for its reluctance to be a signatory to the Hague Convention, for whatever reasons worthy or unworthy. Apt effort would be to impress and convince the governance of the countries to which the abducted children belong to by virtue of their birth and natural residence, with a request to contact the diplomatic channels including interpol to bring back these unfortunate child victims back to their country of origin. These children have fundamental and consutional right to enjoy the provisions of their country of origin to live under the care, company and comfort of the left behind parents who deserve the company of their children which has been denied and deprived for several years. There is absolutely no need for the parental abductor living in India to return and join the left behind parent and the child if she/he is not willing to leave India. I wish the left behind parents living across the world except India, to unite, organize and represent to the Governments concerned and also to the United Nations Organization to get back the abducted children back to their care and custody. It is also essential to prepare a directory of left behind parents across the world and organize an international convention at the earliest to expose GOI for its non-cooperation to prevent child abuse and cruelty.
    1. V
      Venkat RP
      Feb 12, 2017 at 11:12 am
      I understand that the abduction claims go both ways and there may be women who are real victims of harment and I appreciate your concern for them and also understand your ministry's intentions to protect those women in India irrespective of their nationality. But what about genuine parents who are left behind? What course of actions are you taking to protect the true welfare of the children? The Indian family law advises that paramount consideration should be given to children's welfare but what true and rapid actions your system is implementing to protect the rights of the children? Every kid builds intimacy, love and affection with their parents when they are minor but if your corrupted system takes 5 years to solve the abduction cases when will the child get to build an emotional bonding with the left behind parent. I heartfully respect women and more than 40% of women are emplo in my organization in US and India and I personally supported many deprived women and respect your actions to support those women who are really suffering. I sincerely ask, what are you going to do to those women who abducted the children and using them as weapons to torture the left behind parent for nothing but wealth and properties. Would your government expedite the investigation and prevail true justice to the minor and innocent children before they lose all valuable time to enjoy with their left behind parent? What actions are going to take on those police and judicial authorities wrongfully helping the parent in India in violation of several codes of Indian law? In my case, a retired DGP himself tried to wrongfully influence the authorities at CGI NY to impound my pport. A senior official at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs personally threatened me of ruining my career if I don't kneel to the ill dictates of my in-laws and eventually drafted the entire scheme to abduct the children and impound the pport by lodging frivolous cases in India. An ACP in Visakhapatnam shamelessly filed frivolous complaints with the Metropolitan Magistrate Court accusing not only me but also the sincere officers at the CGI NY. A judge at the Metropolitan Magistrate Court without even asking the ACP to submit evidences of his claims pes an order in less than 24 hours time directing the Pport Authority of India to impound my pport as appropriate. Finally, a shameless wife, who in your views is a deprived woman, lodged several frivolous cases in Indian courts with blatant lies and never appeared for court trials but continuing to adjourn the court trials by making one or the other reasons for the last two years. WITH DUE RESPECT I ASK MS. MENAKA HI JI AND MS. SUSHMA SWARAJ JI, I ASK WHAT MEASURES YOU AND YOUR GOVERNMENT ARE TAKING TO STOP THIS CRIME AND PUT THOSE CORRUPT OFFICIALS BEHIND THE BARS? If you don't have guts to change so many things in the CORRUPT Indian system then better sign the Hague Convention OR make laws to expedite the investigation and prevail true justice to the children. My in-laws have looted crores of rupees from my companies and stole crores of rupees of wealth and properties and diverting them to their own kith and kin whereas my children are the true beneficiaries and I hope you and your government would be mindful of some of these crimes.
      1. B
        Nov 27, 2016 at 6:58 pm
        Another disgraceful decision taken by GOI and spearheaded by prime misandrist Maneka hi to whom every woman is an 'abla nari' and every man is a villain...Shame on the BJP for trampling on the rights of Indian fathers who are denied rightful custody of their kids with the most discriminatory and blatantly anti-male of reasoning as is evident from the article...The message needs to go out to each and every Indian father that the current administration would care two hoots for gender equality in the true sense of the word and would willingly sacrifice the welfare and well-being of children at the altar of ill conceived female chauvinism at its very worst as is typified by Smt Maneka hi and her ilk...
        1. J
          Joan Meier
          Nov 27, 2016 at 7:20 pm
          Given the careful analysis described in this article, showing that women and children suffer far more from the Hague Convention than Indian men are helped by it, the decision is a logical one. Perhaps such decisions, taken by more countries, will help ensure that the Hague Convention is revised to ensure that parents and children fleeing abuse are not returned to the abusers in the name of "anti-abduction" efforts.
          1. J
            Nov 29, 2016 at 12:42 pm
            The Hague has protection for women fleeing abuse. What the woman gets in India is biased laws to torture the husband with.
            1. N
              Naveen Ohri
              Nov 28, 2016 at 6:28 am
              Naveen Ohri (United Kingdom)lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Shocking. Indian Minister's are in denial. Who would look at the paramount interest of the Children involved. There are many cases where children born to parents of Indian origins are stopped to visit India to see their families and explore their cultural roots due to the fact India is not an signatory to Hague;br/gt;lt;br/gt;WCD Minister Maneka hi is more worried about the votes she would get by protecting the rights of women but have completely ignored the rights of the "innocent children" involved in these matters as clearly they are too young to vote.
              1. S
                Siminder Kaur
                Dec 4, 2016 at 4:18 pm
                This is outrageous. Most abducting parents flee to India because they know that they will get shelter in India's flawed legal system and gender-biased laws and judicial corruption. Taking children away from the other parent is a crime and not letting the parents even see the child is nothing but child abuse. its astonishing that the ministers are now endorsing this crime and ignoring the Law Commission's research and proposals. Shame on such India. I AM A MOTHER WHO HAS BEEN LEFT BEHIND. My abusive husband (together with his family) has wrongfully retained my 2 year old American son in India and for the past one year I am fighting tooth and nail to bring my son back to his home in US. The father, who by the way still lives and works in US, is not even there with the child and my in-laws have kept my son in captivity denying me all access to him. A natural mother is fighting for custody against gparents and the Indian legal system is doing nothing but giving me dates after dates!!! Please see my story and help me () if anyone can!
                1. சீ.சீநிவாசன்
                  Nov 30, 2016 at 4:20 pm
                  It's a form of legal terrorism adopted by India against the very same non resident Indians or people of Indian descent to extort money from them by keeping their children hostage. The western countries should take a serious note of this and start an embargo on India and cut off all relations. The foreign children are essentially hostages in this country and will be given substandard education while their non custodial parents would continue to use the children for ransom and the Indian lawyers will benefit from it by eventually destroying the future of the entire family..
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