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Film producer moves Bombay HC seeking return of minor children ‘illegally detained’ in Pakistan

The high court has issued notice to the Central government asking to respond to a habeas corpus plea by the film producer from Mumbai

Senior advocate B M Chatterji, representing the petitioner, informed the court that the passport of one child had expired while that of the other child was due for renewal in October. (File)

The Bombay High Court on Thursday issued notice to the Central government through Union Ministry of External Affairs and Home Affairs asking to respond to a habeas corpus plea by a film producer from Mumbai, who claimed that his wife and minor children were being withheld illegally in Pakistan where they had gone to visit the woman’s family.

Claiming that his family was being held back despite the expiry of their visit visas, the petitioner, who filed the plea against his wife, her brother and her parents, sought directions to the Union ministry and the police to facilitate safe return of his two minor children. He also sought that assistance of Interpol should be taken, if required, to get his family out of their “illegal” detention in Lahore, adding they be produced before the court. In addition, he sought that his children and his wife — if she is found under coercion — be located and protected with the assistance of Pakistan High Commission until their safe return to India.

A division bench of Justice N M Jamdar and Justice N R Borkar was hearing a plea by the Hindi filmmaker, who claimed that his wife, who is a Pakistani citizen, and children had gone to Lahore in November, 2020, with the children holding “visiting visa” that is valid till October, 2021.

However, his wife stayed back in Lahore citing reasons such as ill health of her father. As per the plea, due to alleged brainwashing by her family or coercion, the wife along with the children were compelled to stay back in the neighbouring country.

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Senior advocate B M Chatterji, representing the petitioner, informed the court that the passport of one child had expired while that of the other child was due for renewal in October.

He added that the petitioner had written several representations to the Ministry of External Affairs and other authorities seeking information and assistance to bring his minor children back to India. However, due to lack of response, he was prompted to move the High Court.

The petition read, “Their illegal detention in Pakistan is not only in gross derogation of immigration of both countries but is also predominantly contrary to the best interest of their general well being, upbringing and primary education.”

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The plea said that the film producer kept on requesting his wife to come back to India but she refused to do so and “did not provide plausible reason for deserting the petitioner and unlawfully detaining minor children in Pakistan.”

It added, “Her inexplicable conduct is perhaps at the behest of some unidentified person with oblique motives who may have coerced or brainwashed her against him and is holding her along with the children as hostages in Lahore.”

The petitioner said that it appeared that his wife and her family have changed their address and are staying in a rented premises in Lahore, location of which is neither known to the petitioner, nor disclosed by his wife which substantiated her “malafide intentions” and has “deprived the minor children of love and affection of the father and also affected his mental health”.

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The plea claimed that the petitioner’s father, who is 90-year-old, is in “severe mental agony” for not being able to be with his grandchildren and is “sinking into depression” adding he be allowed to spend his “last days” in the company of his grandchildren.

The petition also sought safe return of the producer’s wife if she is found to be under illegal detention or coercion.

Pending hearing of the plea, the petitioner sought the two children be located and protected by the government agencies and be produced before the court. The court will hear the plea next on August 29.

First published on: 18-08-2022 at 06:30:59 pm
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