India: India not to sign pact on inter-country child abduction



New Delhi: The Union Government, with a view to protecting the interests of Indian women living abroad, has decided not to sign the Hague Convention relating to inter-country child abduction, which provides for a scheme for settling disputes.

Inter-parental child removal either by the mother or the father from one country to another is not defined in any Indian legislation. Further, India is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, 1980, which is acceded to by 93 countries worldwide. It was widely expected that India will sign this Convention.

In the absence of a law and India not signing the Hague Convention, inter-parental child custody conflicts are decided by Indian courts on the principle of the welfare of the child in the best interests of the child. Many countries have made abduction a punishable offence.

Centre defends move not to sign treaty
In UK, the Child Abduction Act, 1984 has very stringent provisions making such wrongful removal and retention, as an offence. The government has defended its decision not to sign the Convention on the ground that signing it would be to the disadvantage of Indian women as there were far more cases of Indian women escaping bad marriages abroad and returning “to the safety of their homes” in India. Non-Indian women who are married to Indian men leaving India with their children are comparatively less.

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