March 15, 2016
Can a person challenge a red corner notice in an Indian court? This question came up in a division bench of the Bombay High Court on Monday.
The context was a case of alleged parental abduction of a child from Lithuania to India, in which Interpol had issued a ‘red corner’ notice — usually issued to seek the arrest and extradition of a wanted person —against the father of the child, Kanishk Lodh.
Mr Lodh had brought his child to India against his estranged wife’s wishes, and she had launched an abduction offence against him. He had married a Lithuanian national, Renata Katinaite, in the USA in 2012, and they had a daughter, who died. The couple subsequently separated after marital trouble, but reunited in 2014, and in June 2015, had a son in the USA. Lodh argued that his wife was a negligent and uncaring mother, and he brought the baby to Mumbai in the interests of the child.
The division bench, Justices Naresh H Patil and AM Badar, pondered over several related questions, and asked about the procedure to be followed in cases where India has and does not have an extradition treaty with a foreign country. Observing that “In family matters you have to be sensitive,” the court wondered about the advisability, in such matters, of arresting alleged abductors, and sending them into custody along with the minor children pending a magistrate’s enquiry. The judges also asked whether the courts had powers to intervene in such matters, and at what stages this might be warranted.
Amicus Curiae (‘friend of the court’ which means a person with experience or expertise in a subject, but no interest in the specific legal case being heard) advocate Rui Rodrigues told the court that in cases where India and the other country had a treaty, India could arrest a person against whom a red corner notice had been issued and produce them before a magistrate. Where no treaty existed (India does not have a treaty with Lithuania), the government was not obliged to act unless a request was made by the foreign government for the person to surrender.
In such cases, the CBI, which would be the concerned authority, would merely inform Interpol if they knew of the wanted person’s whereabouts, but need take no further action until an official request was made. The bench then asked Mr Lodh’s lawyer, RA Shaikh, to add the central government as a party in the proceedings and for a brief written submission from amicus Rodrigues. The matter will next be heard on April 13.
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