When he married Chinese national Huan Liu in 2013, IIT-Madras Professor Joe Thomas K. never imagined that three years later he would be running from pillar to post to get the custody of his newborn son after his wife refused to come back to India with their child.
The professor, who had moved the Delhi High Court for remedy, suffered a setback when he was asked by the judges to pursue legal remedies available to him in China.
The couple had gone to China in December 2015, eight months after their son was born, for Christmas vacation. While Prof. Thomas returned in January 2016 for work, his wife stayed back for the Chinese New Year festivities. Ms. Huan was supposed to board a flight to India on February 14, 2016. However, she sent Prof. Thomas a message saying she would not be returning and that their son would stay with her.
After two years of correspondence with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) here, the Indian Embassy in China and the Chinese Embassy here as well as a visit to his wife’s permanent residence in China failed to yield results, Prof. Thomas moved the Delhi HC seeking custody of their son.
The habeas corpus plea by the professor came up for hearing before a Bench of Justices S. Muralidhar and Vinod Goel, who asked him to first pursue the legal remedies available to him in China.
As the court did not appear inclined to entertain the plea, advocate Sanyam Khetarpal, appearing for Prof. Thomas, withdrew the petition.
Central government standing counsel Anurag Ahluwali, appearing for the MEA, told the court that the Indian government had taken up the matter with its Chinese counterparts, who had replied that the husband should try and settle the dispute via negotiation or through legal channels.
No marital disputes
In his plea, Prof. Thomas claimed there was no marital dispute and that it was his wife’s family who were preventing her from returning to India or giving him the custody of their child.
He alleged that when he visited his wife’s home town in Guizhou province in China he found she had moved away. He managed to track her down and see his son after more than two years. The last time he saw his son, the boy was just nine-month-old.
Saddened by the conditions in which their son was allegedly being kept there, he urged his wife to return with him but she refused, his petition said. The plea said the boy was born in Chennai and had an Indian passport when they travelled to China in 2015.
‘New ID documents’
The plea alleged that a new identification document has been created for their son by Ms. Huan, in which the father’s name is absent and the place of birth is shown as China. The boy’s name has also been changed, it said.
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