In a first, the Indian government revoked passports of five Non-Resident Indians for abandoning their wives within a short span of their marriage or after disputes abroad, the New Indian Express reported.
The move comes after the Ministry of External Affairs agreed to the proposal set forth by the Union Women and Child Development Ministry for stringent action in NRI matrimonial dispute cases. The law ministry also accepted the WCD Ministry’s proposal to issue summons through the Ministry of External Affairs website in such cases. The ministry had earlier rejected the proposal on legal grounds.
“This is a crucial step the government has taken to curb this fast-growing menace as we are abandoned with complaints where brides are dumped by NRI grooms post weddings,” a senior WCD ministry official said, according to the report.
The intent of revoking passports is to force the NRI grooms to return to India and face trial. These grooms were evading arrests with their non-response to summons despite non-bailable warrants issued against them. The step to impound passports has been taken in cases where lookout circulars were already issued by an interministerial Integrated Nodal Agency (INA) as part of the standard operating procedure.
“In a criminal matter involving NRIs, an LoC can be issued by the INA in case of cognizable offences, when the husband living abroad is deliberately evading arrest or not appearing in the trial court, despite non-bailable warrants and other coercive measures, or there is a likelihood that he will leave the country to evade trial or arrest,” an earlier official statement said.
The government had been getting complaints involving NRIs over instances such as fraud, abandonment, domestic violence, extra-marital relationships, ex-parte divorce, duping the woman after promising marriage, forceful or illegal retention of children’s custody, and non-payment of maintenance. The Ministry of External Affairs received 3,328 distress calls from NRI women between Jan. 1, 2015 and Nov. 30, 2017, the Times of India reported earlier.
These cases remain pending before court because of the non-appearance of the grooms, which put the future of the women and children in jeopardy.
The Integrated Nodal Agency set up to look into NRI matrimonial disputes, comprising the secretary of WCD ministry as the chairperson, proposed measures such as attaching the property of grooms who desert their wives and their families. The agency had issued the six lookout circulars, out of which the government took action against five.
There are thousands of cases of women being abandoned by their husbands in Punjab, Gujarat, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, the New Indian Express reported citing surveys conducted by NGOs. These women and their families have also accused the men and the groom’s families of charging hefty dowry and then cheating them.