In less than three years, the Ministry of External Affairs has reported receiving over 3000 distressed calls from Non-Resident Indian (NRI) wives. We have seen and read many instances where the groom, who is an NRI, marries an Indian girl in a grand wedding ceremony only to unceremoniously ‘dump’ or abandon her soon after.
The complaints made include harassment and ill-treatment by the husband and his family, loss of communication with the spouse after he goes abroad, request for assistance in serving a judicial summons for Court proceedings in India, child-custody issues etc.
While various governments have tried to clamp down on this, none of them met with any substantial success. The commissioning of an Integrated Nodal Agency under the Women Child Development that would look into complaints related to NRI marriages was one such step in the right direction.
However, all these moves have been restrictive due to the government’s inability to enforce a large number of Indian laws in such disputes.
Coming down heavily on such NRIs, the central government is considering making a law that will allow authorities to attach the property of such husbands.
The government, as part of this crackdown, is also examining the possibility of declaring the erring spouse in NRI marital disputes a proclaimed offender.
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External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, in November 2017, put forth these suggestions. Additionally, according to the minutes of the meeting, it has suggested that “After serving three Notices/Summons, if the erring spouse still does not present himself before the court or attend court’s proceedings, his property could be attached by the court,” as reported by The Print.
However, this would not be the first attempt by the NDA government to look into the issue of abandoned wives after being married off into foreign countries. Last year, Minister for Women and Child Development (WCD), Maneka Gandhi, had said, “From now registration of all marriages will be linked to the women and child development ministry’s website. This will be in place by the end of this month,” as reported by New18.
The procedure currently is that a woman has to file a complaint with police, which then writes to embassies, following which the embassy tries to serve the summons.
In a first, earlier this year, in January, the government’s nodal agency on NRI marital disputes sought revocation of passports of as many as ten offenders.
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