Registrars from all the states across India will now have to upload details associated with NRI marriages on the new website that the Ministry for Women and Child Development is setting up. The move is aimed at tackling the issue of NRI husbands abandoning or ill-treating their wives.
“Having a website that has all data related to marriages of NRIs with Indian nationals, including the address of the NRI groom, where he works, etc., will help us to tackle complaints more promptly,” said a senior official of the ministry, the Hindustan Times reported.
The official added that it will be mandatory for registrars to upload all details on the website soon after a marriage is registered. Currently, very few states, such as Punjab, which was the first, compulsorily register NRI marriages.
These developments have been made following the recommendations made by an inter-ministerial panel to review the legal and regulatory challenges faced by women deserted by NRI men, headed by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
“The law ministry, which is in the process of bringing a law to make registration of all marriage mandatory, has been directed to examine the proposal,” the official with the Ministry of Women and Child Development said, the publication reported.
The panel has also suggested that all NRI marriages would have to be registered within a week after they are solemnized. The recommendations also include uploading the court summons issued to NRI men on the website.
“The panel has suggested that the Law Ministry amend the Indian Evidence Act to make the summons served on the website legally tenable,” said another government official, HT reported.
This would be instrumental in addressing a major problem faced by Indian authorities while dealing with NRI husbands, which is that Indian missions and posts have no means of enforcing the order abroad, except when the other country accepts the request for mutual legal assistance.
On Dec.21, 2017, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement that as many as 3,328 complaints about marital disputes filed by Indian women who have NRI spouses were received by the Ministry of External Affairs, and its missions or posts abroad since 2015.
In May 2017, an expert committee was set up by the External Affairs Ministry to look into the difficulties faced by Indian women married to overseas nationals and suggest changes in the existing policies. The committee was headed by Justice Arvind Kumar Goel, ex-Chairperson, Punjab’s NRI Commission and senior officers of Women and Child Development Ministry, Home and External Affairs Ministries and Department of Telecommunications.
In its report submitted last month, the Goel panel had recommended impounding or cancelling the passport of NRIs who harass their wives for dowry or abuse and desert them in foreign land. The panel also recommended that cases of domestic violence be included in the scope of India’s extradition treaties with other countries.
In November 2017, Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi said that 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. The Woman and Child Development Ministry had said that it wanted the Law Ministry to make registration of NRI marriages compulsory.
Also, in September last year, the inter-ministerial committee recommended to the Ministry of External Affairs that Aadhaar should be made mandatory for registration of NRI marriages in India.