The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the Delhi Police to trace an Indian man and his three-year-old Ukrainian son, who is claimed to have been illegally brought to India during the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war.
The court was informed by the child's mother, a Ukrainian, that she and her ex-husband were divorced and though the minor's custody was granted to her by a court there, the man took their son away without informing her.
"The first priority is to locate your son. We will hear you thereafter. We will ask further questions if needed, once your son is located," a bench of justices Siddharth Mridul and Amit Sharma said.
The high court issued notice to the ministries of home and external affairs, Delhi Police and the man on the woman's petition.
It granted time to the counsel for the Centre and the Delhi government to seek instructions in the matter and listed the matter for further hearing on November 14.
"You only need to tell us if they (man and son) have entered India," the bench told central government standing counsel Ajay Digpaul, who was representing the Ministry of External Affairs.
It further said, "In the meantime, the Delhi Police is directed to locate the man and the three-year-old minor son and request them to appear before this court at the earliest."
In her petition, the woman, who was communicating with the court through a translator, said the man was sighted in Assam and Bihar.
"When you have information that he is in Guwahati, why you did not move to Gauhati High Court. Now Delhi Police will be hard pressed to locate them in Assam. It is your own case that he is sighted in Assam or Bihar and you are moving Delhi High Court," the bench told the petitioner's counsel who was present in the court.
It further asked how the court could direct that the child be sent back to Ukraine in such turbulent times.
"Can you give us guarantee that presently any area in Ukraine is safe... Is she certain that her ex-husband and child are in India," the bench said to which the woman's translator responded that she was completely sure that the kid is in the territory of India.
The woman, in her petition filed through advocate Sravan Kumar, claimed that her son was kidnapped by her ex-husband on March 23 when he had taken the child for a walk and did not return.
In 2021, after dissolution of their marriage, the man was granted visitation rights of their minor son.
Besides seeking production of the child, the woman has also sought direction to the CBI or Delhi Police to register a case of alleged kidnapping, illegal travel of minor without valid documents, creation of fabricated Indian passport from Ukraine and causing pain to the petitioner and her daughter.