MUMBAI: Hearing a case of child custody, the Bombay High Court today directed interpol wing of CBI to issue a red corner notice to bring back an Italian who has left India for his home country with his adopted 7-year-old daughter despite a written undertaking to the court that he would not go abroad with the child.
A bench headed by Justice V M Kanade also directed the CBI Interpol to issue a yellow corner notice to bring back the child whose custody was being sought by her mother, who hails from Goa. The bench, while asking the CBI interpol to issue the
notices to the father and daughter respectively, however, ruled that no coercive action be taken against them. The bench asked the authorities to ensure that both, father and daughter, were presented before the High Court after they were brought from Italy to face the proceedings filed by the Goan woman.
The couple were locked in a custody battle over the child. They were given joint guardianship of the girl by a Pune adoption Centre. However, they split after a year. In 2011, the Italian husband got the custody of the child from a Pune family court.
Both challenged the family court order in the Bombay High Court. The wife challenged the order as she was not granted the custody of her daughter while the husband contested it after the family court refused to remove the mother as a joint legal guardian. The HC also directed the wife to make a representation to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in the Government of India regarding her grievances.
The bench further asked the MEA to intimate the HC order (regarding red corner and yellow corner notices being issued to the father and daughter) to the Indian Embassy in Italy which in turn would convey it to Juvenile court in Venice, Italy. The HC also asked the Union of India to explore the possibility of providing legal aid to the applicant (wife).
Pending final hearing, the High Court had granted the wife access to her child. The HC had also restrained the father from taking her daughter to his native country. On August 19, the HC was informed that he had left for Italy with the child despite a written assurance that he would not do so. Meanwhile, the wife obtained an order of Juvenile court in Venice which had granted the custody of the child to the father. She produced the copy to the Bombay HC which observed "it appears the matter has been supressed from the Italian Court (about the custody battle in HC). Also, there has been a misrepresentation of facts that the wife is suffering from a psychiatric problem," the bench noted.
Union Government Counsel, Riu Rodrigues, informed the Court that an FIR for cognizable offence had been registered by the wife against her estranged husband in a Pune police station. He also informed the HC that the husband had disposed of his properties in Goa and Pune before leaving for Italy. This showed that he had the intention to take his child to Italy, the Government Counsel said.
The bench observed, "he may have taken the child out of love and affection for her but prima facie it appears that the husband had abducted the child despite an undertaking to the court that he would not take his daughter to Italy". "This is a serious matter for which he would have to face consequences," the bench remarked.
The Judges also observed that hence forth the HC would exercise restraint in giving children in adoption to foreigners. Mihir Desai, the 'amicus curaie' (friend of the court) appointed in the matter, said the existing Extradition Act of 1962 prescribes a proceedure to be followed by countries who have not signed extradition treaty with other nations. In such cases, the Ministry of External Affairs can inform the Indian Embassy which in turn can take further action in keeping with the proceedure, he added.