Little India: Overseas Indian, NRI, Asian Indian, Indian American

Expert Panel Recommends Making Aadhaar Mandatory For NRI Marriages

Aadhaar should be made mandatory for registration of NRI marriages in India, an inter-ministerial committee has recommended to the Ministry of External Affairs as an effort to tackle desertion and other marital issues that rattle NRI marriages.

The proposal seeks to protect the rights of women who are deserted by their NRI husbands or become victims of domestic violence and dowry harassment abroad. The Unique Identification Authority of India is currently looking to make a policy on Aadhar enrolment of NRIs, Overseas Citizens of India and Persons of Indian Origin. As of now, all non-resident Indian nationals and foreigners with valid visas can enroll for an Aadhaar number.

The committee also asked the union government to amend its extradition treaties with various countries to include domestic violence as a criterion for seeking custody of the accused, according to a Times of India report on the contents of the report submitted to the ministry on August 30.

Domestic violence and spousal abandonment are  common problems experienced by overseas Indian women. This has often led to protest marches organized by women groups to highlight the issue in the host country. Indian Ladies in UK took out a march last month in London to bring the issue to the government’s notice.

Tracking an offender in NRI marriages is often difficult since it’s hard to serve notice when you have no address proof, an official told TOI. The report submitted to Ministry of External Affairs is limited to NRIs and not expanded to include anyone else of Indian origin living abroad. “We are only dealing with those who hold an Indian passport,” the report quoted the source as saying.

The report also recommended that the National Commission for Women (NCW) be made the nodal authority on looking into disputes in these marriages. About 1,300 cases of marital disputes were registered by the NRI cell of the NCW between 2005 and 2012, according to a report commissioned in 2011.

The panel on NRI marriages was formed last year under the chairmanship of retired Justice Arvind Goel, the former chairman of the NRI Commission of Punjab. The panel consists of officials from the ministries of Women and Child Development, Home Affairs, External Affairs, and the department of Telecommunications.