A Three-Judge Bench Supreme Court comprising Justices R. F. Nariman, Ravindra Bhat & V Ramasubramanian on Wednesday heard a Petition pertaining to framing of guidelines against International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA) and adjourned the matter as "Part-Heard".
The central issue in the PIL filed on behalf of a US based NGO named "Bring Your Kids Home" was absence (or lack thereof) of mechanisms in place to counter cross-border abductions by parents of children.
Advocate Shadan Farasat led arguments on behalf of the Petitioner-NGO on Tuesday.
His assertions centred around inaction by the Government to enact a normative framework for the aforementioned issue which had multitudinous ramifications.
"India ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ("UNCRC") in 1992 which imposes various international obligations on India in respect of illegal removal of child from one jurisdiction to another jurisdiction so as to deny the child and/or one or both of his parent's access to each other" averred Farasat.
In light of this, he further submitted that the Law Commission of India in its 218th report & 263rd report had suggested legislative and other changes to the legal framework in India. However in violation of India's obligation under the UNCRC, these proposals, bills etc., had been put in cold storage by the Government of India, allowing the unacceptable status-quo to continue.
Following this, Advocate Malvika Rajkotia appeared as an intervenor in her personal capacity and brought to light the issue of Gender-oriented discrimination in this issue, asserting that guidelines should be made in tune with this situation in real time.
"Time is important in the context of children. No doubt, welfare is important. But children's welfare supersedes everything" added Rajkotia.
ASG Pinky Anand made submissions on behalf of the Union and while pointing to the Affidavit filed on behalf of the Ministry of external affairs, stated that the Government was currently formulating a framework in light of the observations in the "Bindal Committee Report".
The Bench, pointed to the ineptitude of the Government in dealing with the issues and the long drawn delay in implementing recommendations of the Bindal Committee Report sought clarifications from the ASG on the same.
Justice Nariman observed,
"Surely in the absence of legislations, some guidelines need to be implemented. This Committee has done lots of work. Doing nothing about it makes no sense."
With this, the matter was adjourned and was directed to be listed post the Holi break.
The Bindal Committee Report was headed by Justice Rajesh Bindal and was submitted to the WCD Minister on 23rd April 2018. It had made observations and recommendations on Inter-country removal & retention of children in line with India's international obligations in the UNRC.
Till date, no framework exists in line with the issue.
Advocate Shadan Farasat was assisted by Advocate Shruti Narayan and the ASG was assisted by Advocate Snidha Mehra.