"New developments in the child welfare case involving two Indian children make it impossible to carry out the hearing in Stavanger District Court that was scheduled for Friday 23 March," the Norwegian Child Welfare Service said in a statement.
The statement follows reports of differences between the parents -- Anurup and Sagarika Bhhtacharya -- whose children three-year-old Abhigyan and one-year-old Aishwarya were placed in foster care in Norway in May last year on grounds of "emotional disconnect". Norwegian authorities believe that it would not be in the "best interests" of the kids that they be moved to India now amidst differences between the parents.
Over the last few days, both the parents and the children's uncle, who was to get the custody of the kids, "have changed their position several times on the agreement that had originally been reached. This has caused the child welfare service to doubt their motives as far as the agreement is concerned," CWS chief Gunnar Toreseen said.
He said the authorities have been made aware of a conflict in the family that could influence the outcome of the case. "The Municipality of Stavanger will seek to clarify the next steps to be taken in this case in dialogue with the lawyer, private parties and Stavanger district court, since new developments in the child welfare case involving two
Indian children make it impossible to carry out the hearing" on Friday, the CWS statement said. "The case was due to be heard on the condition that the parties entered into an agreement that care of the children should be awarded to their uncle in India. The conflicts over the last few days between the parents and their respective families mean the conditions for entering into an agreement of this kind are no longer present," the statement said.
Noting that there had been close dialogue with the family throughout the process, which had until now proceeded as planned, Toreseen said the authorities had now been made aware of a conflict in the family that could influence the outcome of the case.
The CWS "is no longer confident that the parties wish to enter into a genuine agreement. Over the last few days, the parties to the agreement have provided conflicting and different information, both to the CWS and to the media, on their positions in the case," he said.
He emphasised that the CWS was well aware that there was a great deal of external pressure on the family, and that this made it difficult for them to agree on a clear position. "But in the light of the great uncertainty that now prevails, the CWS cannot maintain that a move to India would be in the best interests of the children."
"Even if the parents and the children's uncle should nevertheless now want to sign an agreement, the CWS does not have sufficient confidence that an agreement would be fulfilled as intended, because the necessary consensus and understanding between the parties and their families does not exist," he said.
This means that the children could be caught up in "a very unfortunate tug of war in India," Toresen said. He said the family no longer appeared to be in agreement, and the necessary conditions for entering into an agreement of this kind were therefore not present.
The CWS had a clear intention to sign and implement the agreement but that the events of the last few days now make this impossible, he said.
For Rediff Realtime News on the Norway custody row, click here