Law Commission suggestions on draft Bill on child abduction
The 21st Law Commission in its first report has recommended a series of changes in the draft Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Bill-2016, proposed by the Women and Child Development Ministry.
One-year jail term for wrongful retention or removal of a child from the custody of a parent. The offenders may include one of the parents or family, relatives and others.
Three months punishment for wilful misrepresentation or concealment of fact as regards the location or information about the child or for voluntarily preventing the safe return of the child.
Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Bill, 2016
Union ministry of women and child development (WCD) has drafted the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Bill, 2016, which facilitates prompt return of any child under 16 who has been “wrongfully removed to or retained in other state which is not his/her habitual residence.”
This bill will provide an enabling legislation to implement the provision of the Hague convention that provides an expeditious method for returning a child.
Signing the convention will ensure enforcement of custody orders of foreign courts.
Presently, a parent takes advantage of the absence of a domestic law and knows if he/she brings the child to India it will be difficult to enforce the custody order of a foreign court.
The draft law mandates setting up of a central authority, to be headed by a joint secretary level officer, where an aggrieved parent can approach for the return of a child. The authority would have the power to decide all such cases.
In the US and Europe, inter-parental child abduction is a serious offence where the accused parent can go to jail on charges of abduction.
As of now, in most of the matters decided by the Indian court, the criminal offence and its penalties are often not pressed by the aggrieved parent to enable a settlement in the matter in the best interest of the child