Intense custody battles in courts between estranged spouses transcending national boundaries cause children “immense mental stress”, necessitating a law on inter-country child custody cases, Chief Justice of India J S Khehar said today. “The only question is to give custody to which parent. It’s not simple. It’s a cultural question involving the ways of life, which custom the child is accustomed to. It is also the question of sovereignty of two countries,” he said. Inaugurating the ‘All India Seminar’ organised by the International Law Association here, Justice Khehar called upon the government to make a comprehensive law as children are the future of the nation and protection of their physical, mental and moral health cannot be compromised due to matrimonial disputes.
“Parental clash in families are bound to hit children. When matrimonial disputes change to child-custody battle, the child concerned is in a serious stress. “When it transcends national boundaries, the welfare of the child suffers. The legal battle gets entangled in sovereign laws of the nations concerned,” he said. Either there has to be a complete legislation to deal with such case or India should decide to be a signatory to the Hague Convention of 1980, “because child rights are vital and they are in a flux” he said. The Hague Convention of October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a multilateral treaty, which seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of abduction and retention across international boundaries by providing a procedure to bring about their prompt return.
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Supreme Court judge A K Sikri, who spoke prior to the CJI, also highlighted the need of a law on the issue. “It is not easy to decide the custody of a child. It becomes more difficult when we have to decide while granting custody and one of the parent is abroad. The visitation right granted to that parent abroad will be difficult,” Justice Sikri said.
He said that cross-border insolvency solutions must be there. “There should be a synergy of laws. An MNC may go insolvent in one country and has jurisdiction in almost all other countries. It will be difficult if laws are not uniform,” Justice Sikri said.