The U.S. State Department has just issued its 2017 Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction under the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA). The following is the Country Summary and related information from the seventh country listed as “Noncompliant” in the report, India:
Country Summary: India does not adhere to any protocols with respect to international parental child abduction. In 2016, 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, 66 percent of requests for the return of abducted children have remained unresolved for more than 12 months. India has been cited as non-compliant since 2014.
Central Authority: In 2016, 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. The Indian authorities have not responded to applications for assistance with the return of children presented to them in 2016. Moreover, the competent authorities failed to resolve cases due to a lack of viable legal options. While the Indian government repeatedly met with U.S. officials to discuss abduction cases, it persistently failed to take concrete steps to resolve pending cases.
Voluntary Resolution: In 2016, five abduction cases were resolved through voluntary means. Most returns of abducted children from India to the United States were the result of voluntary agreements between parents.
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. Absent any clear legal procedures for specifically addressing abduction cases under Indian law, parents’ efforts to resolve custody disputes in local courts were often unsuccessful.
Enforcement: While most left-behind parents faced significant delays and difficulties in obtaining favorable custody decisions in Indian courts, custody decisions were generally enforced in a timely manner.
Department Recommendations: The Department will intensify its efforts to persuade India to accede to the Convention and expand public diplomacy activities related to the resolution of cases. The Department also recommends an emphasis on preventing abductions.