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Dad flees to UAE with toddler

In the UAE, fathers have exclusive rights over children’s custody following separation from the wife
The global agency has issued a Yellow Notice for the two-and-a-half-year-old child, Raina

PTI   |   New Delhi   |   Published 05.11.19, 09:18 PM

A father denied custody of his daughter and allowed only limited time with her has triggered an Interpol search on a CBI plea by escaping with the toddler and travelling through multiple countries to reach the UAE, where fathers have exclusive rights over children’s custody following separation from the wife.

The global agency has issued a Yellow Notice for the two-and-a-half-year-old child, Raina. The CBI has now initiated the process to get a Red Corner Notice issued against Aman Lohia, the father. The external affairs ministry also issued a note verbale on September 9 to UAE authorities to not let Aman leave the country.

Yellow Notices are issued by the Interpol on the request of member countries to locate missing persons, while Red Corner Notices are a global request to arrest an absconder.

Aman, son of a prominent businessman having family relations with a London-based global steel tycoon, has been fighting a custody battle in Delhi High Court for his daughter with his separated wife Kiran Kaur Lohia, a well-known dermatologist with a clinic in an upscale locality of south Delhi.

The high court had handed over the custody to the mother with a parenting plan according to which Aman could meet Raina for some hours on three days every week. The court has also asked him to deposit his passport, which he did.

But the order did not go down well with Aman, who considered it “gender bias of Indian courts towards women”. With his passport deposited in the court, Aman allegedly decided to flee to Dubai using a passport acquired from the Commonwealth of Dominica in the Caribbean.

He reached Dubai as he had heard the high court observe during the hearing that “personal laws enjoin exclusive custody upon the father” in the UAE.

On August 24, when Raina had come to meet Aman as per the parenting plan, he took her along with family confidant Pawan Kumar and maid Shiuratia Debi Mahato to board a flight to Bagdogra with Delhi police on their trail.

From Bagdogra, they took a taxi to Kathmandu from where they went to Dubai via a circuitous route through Gulf cities including Doha, sources said.

Considering “international ramifications”, Delhi High Court handed over the probe to the CBI, which has registered a case and started the process for a Red Corner Notice against Aman and Mahato. The agency arrested Kumar, the family confidant, upon his return from Dubai.

The court has termed Aman’s escape with his daughter on a Dominican passport and his refusal to subject himself to the jurisdiction of the Indian legal system a “contempt of court”.

In response to the notice issued by the high court, Aman, through his lawyers, filed an affidavit on September 4 stating that he was a “victim of gender bias” of Indian courts and that it was the “love for his daughter” that made him do what he did.

Rejecting the arguments, the court noted that “after having taken the law into his own hands” and having decided “to become a judge, jury and an executioner rolled into one... Aman Lohia... is now trying to adorn the role of a victim/martyr”. “Nothing can be further from the truth,” the high court had said. It noted that Aman had not expressed a word of apology, remorse or even the willingness to purge the contempt by returning the child to the mother.

“This compounds the contempt. In fact, the present matter ‘is a textbook case of a rich and haughty man mocking the system’,” the court said.

It said removing Raina from the jurisdiction of the high court interfered with and obstructed the due course of justice and tended to lower its authority.

“Aman acted out of his own volition without taking any member of the family into confidence. He is incommunicado (and) not answering calls. Emails are also bouncing back,” a source privy to the developments in court said.

Aman has “disengaged” with his lawyer, stating that he would not return to India.


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