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February - March 2007

Political News

India to Join Hague Convention

At the two day Fourth International Conference on Private International Law held at the Indian Society of International Law, New Delhi on December 2 and 3, 2006, Union Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, Vayalar Ravi in his address titled “International Private Law in a Globalising World” clearly declared that the Government of India will soon become a member of The Hague Conference on Private International Law.

Giving details of this momentous International meet, Chandigarh based lawyers Anil and Ranjit Malhotra who made powerful presentations on “Conflict of Jurisdictions in Inter parental Child Custody Disputes “ and on “ Inter Country Adoptions from India” stated that this was a very important and significant step which will ensure that the 25 million NRI Diaspora and foreigners would not face difficulties in settling cross border marital disputes coupled with resolving Inter Continental Child Custody litigations.

The Conference attended by a galaxy of academicians, lawyers and foreign representatives had amongst them Dr. Hans van Loon the Secretary General of The Hague Conference on Private International law and Lord Justice Mathew Thorpe, Head of International Family Law and Judge of Court of Appeal in England. Delegates from UK, USA, Australia, Africa, Bangladesh and other parts of Europe attended this meet focusing on Family Laws and International Commercial Laws.

Anil Malhotra in his presentation focused on the issue of Inter Parental Child Abductions to and from India. High incidence of child removal in North India to and from UK, USA and Canada was highlighted. Absence of any direct law or treaty had led to India becoming a haven for child removal. The necessity of acceding to The Hague Convention on child abduction was the unanimous resolution in this special session chaired by Lord Justice Thorpe. The assurance by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs to become the party to the Convention very shortly will resolve this burning problem and give a permanent solution.

Ranjit Malhotra in his presentation focused on problems arising out of Inter Country Child Adoptions. Mr. William Duncan from The Hague chairing this session stressed the need for an international perspective in this regard. Representatives from the Central Adoption Resource Authority of the Indian Ministry of Social Justice gave their useful view point through the 2006 Guidelines on Adoptions from India.

In a specially convened session on abandoned NRI spouses and forced marriages in UK among the Asian Community, Solicitors and Barristers from UK explained the English perspective and remedies available under British Law to aggrieved parties. This educative and informative session was of great utility to practitioners in India.

The huge Indian Diaspora spread over 110 countries today faces acute and severe problems on account of marriages, divorces, adoptions, inter parental child removal and property disputes. The assurance given regarding the signing of The Hague Convention will facilitate reciprocal recognition of orders of Courts of signatory countries. In the words of the Minister, “As the largest and fastest growing free market democracy, India is truly integrated with the world economic order. I am aware that a number of difficult legal issues relate to the Indian Diaspora…..Private International law therefore is relevant to our work ….One such issue is the delicate and complex problem of the break down of marriages of NRI couples….. My Ministry is giving utmost importance to finding legal solutions to tackle such situations.”

It has been now felt that if India signs some of The Hague Conventions including the one on child abduction; it would resolve a number of problems relating to issues arising out of NRI marriages. Besides, in matters of Inter Parental Child removal in global matrimonial litigations , children will be returned to the country of their habitual residence by a mutually reciprocal international arrangement between countries. Recognition of Indian marriages and divorces and reciprocally similar foreign instances would come to an International agreement.

The vision of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru who established the Indian Society of International Law in 1959 was far sighted. The meet resulted in useful deliberations. The vision of Mr. Ram Niwas Mirdha as the President of the Society in organizing the conference has been indeed fruitful and path breaking. The milestone announcements of endorsing The Hague Conventions on private international law will go a long way to improve the plight of NRI family problems.

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