Immigration

Passports of NRI Husbands May be Cancelled in Marital Dispute Cases

The high-level committee's recommendation aims to facilitate the extradition of NRI husbands to India for trial.

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Non-Resident Indians who harass and desert their wives could face severe punishment, including cancellation of passport, if the recommendations of the high-level committee set up to research and formulate guidelines for safeguarding the rights of NRI wives are accepted by the Central government.

Strong Warning for NRI Husbands

“The panel believes this will facilitate the extradition of NRI spouses to India for trial. At present, when it comes to desertion, domestic violence or dowry harassment cases, it is next to impossible to get the man to return for facing legal proceedings,” the Hindustan Times quoted a source as saying.

The committee was constituted in May 2017 to look into various legal challenges and measures to address them while handling cases involving NRI husbands. The committee was headed by Arvind Goel, the former chairman of NRI Commission in Punjab.

Among the main recommendations made by the committee is cancellation or impounding of the passport of NRIs who harass or desert their wives, the publication reported.

“Once the passport is impounded, the NRI husband — if present in India — won’t be able to leave the country until the case is settled. If abroad, he will have to be deported to India,” it added.

Even though Section 10 (03) of the Indian Passport Act allows the cancellation or impounding of the passport of NRIs if an FIR is filed, the provision is usually not used due to lack of awareness and the cumbersome process involved.

The committee has also directed mandatory registration of NRI marriages, with vital details like social security number, workplace and home address of the NRI spouse included in the marriage registration certificate. This measure will help track the man in cases of abuse.

If the report is accepted by the Central government, then the domestic violence by NRI husbands will come under the ambit of extradition treaties.

The Committee also recommends increasing the financial aid provided by NRI husbands to deserted wives from $3,000 to $6,000. This money is meant to avail legal assistance in foreign countries, where women may not have adequate connections and resources to take the case forward.

It also recommends creation of a national mechanism involving the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, and the National Commission of Women to deal with the issue of desertion of wives by NRIs.

Alarming Statistics

Out of 10 NRI marriages, two result in the wife being abandoned after the honeymoon period, according to a 2009 report by the National Commission for Women. The number of Indian women abandoned by NRI husbands was 13,000 in Gujarat and 25,000 in Punjab, as per 2007 statistics.

In 2014, the National Commission for Women received 346 complaints from women married to Non-Resident Indians. Most of the complaints talked about the husbands preventing their wives from accessing their passports, absconding after marrying Indian women, forcibly keeping children abroad with no contact with their Indian mother and abandoning them in foreign countries.

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