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Govt Plans Centralized Database For Registered Marriages to Curb NRI Disputes

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In a move to make NRI grooms more accountable and curb incidents of desertion of wives in a foreign country, the Indian government is planning to collect data on all registered marriages, Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi said on Nov. 6.

“It is a problem running into thousands now. Many people are keen on marrying their girls off to NRIs and no due diligence is followed when the marriage takes place,” she said, PTI reported.

The Woman and Child Development Ministry wants the Law Ministry to make registration of NRI marriages compulsory The WCD ministry will also be getting the data from the registrars. “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,” Gandhi said.

The ministry will also create an integrated nodal agency to look into problems faced in NRI marriages. The members of this agency will include officials from the ministries of law, external affairs and home affairs. This step is a precursor to a host of new measures, including compulsory registration of marriages, that the government will take to curb this malaise.

“We have prepared a plan of action that will go to the Cabinet as it requires amending a few laws,” Gandhi added.

This decision was taken in presence of Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad at an inter-ministerial meeting on Nov. 6.

The Law Commission had, earlier this year, submitted that the compulsory registration of marriages was a “necessary reform” and recommended amending the Registration of Births and Deaths Act,1969 to include the provision.

While there is no central law at the moment for registration of marriages, several states have mandated it be done, such as Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, Meghalaya, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Mizoram. Gandhi’s announcements come on the heels of a report submitted to the Ministry of External Affairs by an expert panel on NRI marriages. The panel found several loopholes in the marriages, including cases where the NRI men were found to have not provided details of their actual profession, income, passport or residence abroad, or had kept back truth about the groom’s relationship status. There have been cases where the NRI groom and his parents leave the country with the dowry while the new bride is left behind to fend for herself.

Chaired by retired Justice Arvind Goel, the panel also recommended that India amends its extradition treaties with countries to include domestic violence to seek custody of an accused, and impounding of passports of NRI husbands who are accused of harassing and deserting their wives.

As per the National Commission for Women, about 13,000 cases were registered by the NRI cell between 2005 and 2012.

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