Campaigning against “the draconian child confiscation laws that apply to Indian citizens even on temporary stay abroad”, a group of lawyers, social activists and those working in the area of child rights have demanded that the Union Government establish a formal mechanism for the return of these children.

Launching the campaign in the Capital, CPI (M) leader Brinda Karat, former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court Mukul Mudgal and former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court A. P. Shah approached the National Human Rights Commission on Friday asking it to recommend to the Government to come out with a mechanism that would pave the way for return of such children to India at the earliest.

Ms. Karat said: “We expect the Indian Government to intervene urgently and raise the issue at the United Nations; let India become the voice of the children who are snatched away without adequate reasons. Our petition includes a study of the Norwegian care proceedings in the Bhattacharya case which reveals a shocking absence of any justification for the confiscation of the children. How can the Indian child be confiscated from extended family? It is an utter violation of right of a child. Such laws are draconian in nature. We want the Government to extend immediate care in such cases and help create awareness about child protection laws among Indians travelling abroad with their children.”

Stating that it was not only the children from India living in Western countries who are at the receiving end, but also those from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other Asian countries, Justice (retd.) Mudgal said: “Often there is no understanding of the cultural variation and difference. Besides, Indian parents often have no timely access to legal help. There has to be a permanent mechanism for such parents.”

The group also highlighted the case of baby Indrashish in New Jersey who is facing confiscatory care proceedings. “There is a need for the Indian Government to intervene for his return otherwise, according to some of his relatives, a child who spends more than a year in the U.S. state care despite parents contesting his removal can be given up for adoption by the authorities,” said campaign co-ordinator Suranya Aiyar.

Justice (retd.) A.P. Shah said, “The laws abroad point to systemic human rights violations, particularly the low threshold for confiscation and denial of due process, in confiscatory child care proceedings in first world countries.”

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