HC allows kids to visit US NRI woman during holidays

The Punjab and Haryana high court has overturned a Ludhiana court's order rejecting a California-based NRI's plea to take her children, living with her ex-husband, to the US during winter break.

It has asked the American police to execute its orders to ensure two Ludhiana-based kids return to their father after spending their holidays with their mother, Maninderjit Kaur Atwal, in the US.

The lower court had rejected Atwal's plea in May 2015 saying the US had no bilateral agreement with India to enforce return of children in case she refused to send them back.

The high court asked the mother to furnish an undertaking before a Ludhiana court that she would comply with the directions to allay the fears of the kid's father.

It asked her to give her bank account number and authorize the Ludhiana court to recover $100,000 from it or furnish a local Rs 66 lakh surety to ensure she follow the directives.

The high court directed the mother to provide cellphones to both children on their arrival in the US to allow them to contact police in case of a problem.

The kids can visit Atwal for two weeks each during summer and winter holidays.

The high court noted its orders could be enforced by the US police subject to the country's laws while observing law enforcement was much effective in that country and rights of children were protected.

It said the children were born in the US and had full right to visit the country for their mental and emotional development besides getting acquainted with its environment and meeting their mother.

Justice Kuldeep Singh passed these orders on December 1 after allowing application of Atwal, who had divorced Barinder Singh Pannu in November 2010.

As per the agreement, the Indian courts were given jurisdiction over the children's custody and visitation rights.

It was agreed the children would reside with their father and the mother would have them visit her in California during vacations.

The mother was ordered to pay $2,200 monthly for the kids education and upbringing as the father did not have sufficient income.

A petition to appoint Atwal as the kids' guardian is pending before the Ludhiana court. The lower court had dismissed Atwal's plea during the pendency of the issue.

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