The U.S. State Department has recently released their annual report on International Child Abduction. Below is our seventh post in a series here focusing on the twelve countries classified as “demonstrating patterns of noncompliance.” Today's country is India.
Country Summary: India does not adhere to any protocols with respect to international parental child abduction. In 2017, India demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance. Specifically, the competent authorities in India persistently failed to work with the Department of State to resolve abduction cases. As a result of this failure, 90 percent of requests for the return of abducted children remained unresolved for more than 12 months. On average, these cases were unresolved for one year and ten months. India has been cited as noncompliant since 2014.
Initial Inquiries: In 2017, the Department received 11 initial inquiries from parents regarding possible abductions to India in which no additional assistance was requested or necessary documentation was not received as of December 31, 2017.
Central Authority: In 2017, the competent authorities in India demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance by regularly declining to work with the Department of State toward the resolution of pending abduction cases. Moreover, the competent authorities have failed to resolve cases. While the Indian government repeatedly met with U.S. officials to discuss abduction cases, thus far, it has failed to take concrete steps to resolve pending cases.
Voluntary Resolution: In 2017, seven abduction cases were resolved through voluntary means.
Location: The Department of State did not request assistance with location from the Indian authorities.
Judicial Authorities: Without the Hague Abduction Convention or any other protocols intended to resolve abduction cases, parents generally must pursue custody of abducted children in Indian courts. Judicial action in custody cases in India has been slow, and Indian courts tend to default to granting custody to the taking parent. The lack of clear legal procedures for addressing international parental child abduction cases under Indian law makes it difficult for India to resolve these cases.
Enforcement: While domestic court orders in India are generally enforced, in some cases the Indian authorities faced challenges with enforcement.
Department Recommendations: The Department will continue to encourage India to accede to the Convention and expand public diplomacy activities related to the Convention.