Centre to redraft law to address NRI child custody disputes

RSTV Bureau
Maneka Gandhi interview 1

File Photo – RSTV

In a significant move, Centre has decided to redraft the legislation to resolve child custody disputes involving NRI parents. The proposed law was junked by the Centre just few months ago.

Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi on Friday spoke about developing “a model legislation” to deal with the issue.

“A large number of women married to Indians abroad are compelled to return to India with their children when they undergo violence in their marriages,” she said.

“The problems being faced by the parents must be addressed and an effective mechanism for the same must be created. A model legislation to safeguard not only the interests of the child but also of the parents, especially women must also be developed,” Maneka Gandhi said in an official statement.

At the meeting it was decided that Judicial Academy Chandigarh along with NRI Commission of Punjab will “examine legal issues” involved in international child custody disputes, said an official statement of the ministry.

The exercise is expected to be completed in four months.

“It was decided that further deliberations should be done and the legislation should be redrafted. The existing draft law doesn’t have any teeth. Many judges present felt that there were defects in it,” said chairperson, NRI Commission of Punjab, Rakesh Kumar Garg who attended the meet.

Earlier, the ministry had prepared ‘Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Bill, 2016′ to deal with the issue and to facilitate accession to Hague Convention but it later abandoned the exercise and cited that it was against the interest of women.

Signing the Hague treaty would have meant that the government will have to send back women, who have escaped bad marriages abroad and brought their children along with them to India, back to the country of the father’s residence.

A report suggesting amendments to WCD’s proposed law was also submitted by Law Commission to Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in October last year. It had recommended a jail term of one year where a parent “wrongfully removes or retains a child either himself or through other person from the custody of another parent”.

(With inputs from the PTI)