Estranged NRI allowed to talk to kids via video-conferencing

May 9th, 2008 - 9:49 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 9 (IANS) In a move that could prove a boon to Indians living abroad, a Delhi court Friday allowed a father fighting a divorce and custody case from the US to speak to his children here via video-conferencing once a month. Tis Hazari Additional District Judge Kamini Lau allowed the application moved by the New Jersey-based doctor to talk to his two teenaged daughters.

Earlier, he had sought exemption from travelling to India to attend hearings citing personal reasons. The court then asked the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to arrange for video-conferencing facility.

Though the ministry was initially a little reluctant, it arranged the facility in New Jersey later where the father recorded his statement in the presence of a senior Indian official.

The judge, however, put some conditions.

“I allow you to talk to your children on the first Saturday of every month for one hour. The conversation though will be recorded and not be reproduced anywhere for the case,” the judge said in her order.

The counsel for the father then filed an undertaking in the court stating that he would not reproduce the recording elsewhere.

The court also ordered the father not to send gifts for the children directly to his wife, but to send it to the address of her advocate.

The daughters, aged 13 and 15, are studying in a school at Gurgaon.

The court also restricted the father from communicating directly to the school authorities, and asked him to communicate through the court.

To speak to his children, the father will have to bear all the expenses, the court ordered.

The case dates back to 1998 when the doctor and his wife separated. The wife filed for divorce in a US court and after moving to Delhi, filed the divorce case in Tis Hazari in 2001.

The video-conferencing could prove a trendsetter for many other cases involving NRIs who are involved in litigation and find it difficult to travel to India due to various reasons.

The MEA had initially showed reluctance in the matter, claiming “allowing access to High Commissions or consulates was not viable”.

Lau had, however, observed: “It is rather surprising to note that in this era of technical advancement, the Indian High Commissions and the consulates situated in various countries are not equipped with this basic facility.”

The order moved the authorities and they arranged the facility in New Jersey.

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