A Norwegian court on Monday handed over two Indian children to their Kolkata-based uncle, ending a year-old custody battle that drew in two prime ministers, angered MPs and even threatened to scar bilateral ties.
Siblings Abhigyan, 3, and Aishwarya Bhattacharya, 1, were expected to return to Kolkata immediately, after the court in the town of Stavanger - around 300 km from the capital Oslo - ruled in favour of their parents Anurup and Sagarika.
"This is very good news," the family's lawyer Svein Kjetil Lode Svendsen told HT.
"There's enormous relief that the court has decided to go with our proposals. Anurup and Sagarika are very happy that the kids can go back to India."
The court took the decision after the parents' proposal to place the kids in their uncle's custody was accepted by the Norwegian Child Welfare Service (CWS), which forcibly took away the children on May 11, 2011.
The joint application was presented to the court on April 17.
"This stated that the grounds for removing the children from the care of their parents were and continue to be present, but that it is no longer necessary for them to stay with a family in Norway as an agreement has now been reached that the children are to grow up in the care of their uncle and will not be living with their parents," the CWS said.
The CWS in Stavanger had cited "emotional disconnect" while forcibly removing the children last year. But on Monday, its head Gunnar Toresen praised the "satisfactory solution," adding: "Growing up in the care of their uncle in India is a good, long-term alternative for the children."
Curiously, the CWS had rejected the same application from the parents as far back as in October last year, Svendsen revealed.
Now, with mounting diplomatic pressure - PM Manmohan Singh raised the issue with counterpart in March - the agency was left with no choice but to accept it.
"There was a lot of uncertainty but the parents were united on this solution," Svendsen told HT.
"This will have a huge impact on the other cases of foreign children in CWS custody. There will have to be some legislation after the Bhattacharya case."