Justice Rajesh Bindal Committee Recommendations

There is immense pressure on India from the U.S. to accede to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which is a multi-national treaty that seeks to protect children wrongfully removed by one of the parents from the custody of the other parent.

A committee was set up by the Centre to prepare a report on the issue of inter-country parental child abduction has questioned one of the basic principles of the Hague Convention by arguing that the return of the child to his or her habitual residence may not necessarily be in the best interest of the child.

Recommendations of the Justice Rajesh Bindal Committee:

  • The Committee feels that the concept of habitual residence is not synchronous with the best interest of the child.
  • It adds that returning a child to the place of habitual residence may result in sending the child to an inharmonious set-up as well as overlook the fact that a mother is the primary caregiver of the child.
  • The panel has also prepared a draft law to safeguard the interest of the children, as well as those of the parents, particularly mothers.
  • The proposed legislation lays down nine exceptions under which a child will not be returned to the country of habitual residence.
  • The important conditions under which a child’s return can be refused are — best interest of the child, domestic violence or mental or physical cruelty or harassment against the parent who fled with the child, the parent claiming the return of the child was not exercising the custody rights at the time of removal, and if there is a grave risk that the child would be exposed to physical or psychological harm.
  • The panel has also emphasised the importance of the “Indian family system” in ensuring the best interest of the child, seemingly to question the logic behind returning the child to a place of habitual residence outside India.
  • The committee also recommends the setting up of an Inter-Country Parental Child Removal Disputes Resolution Authority, which will be the nodal body to decide on the custody of the child, mediate between the warring parties, as well as order the return of the child to the country of habitual residence. [The Hindu]

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