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

Law Ministry Questions Legality of Harsher Steps for ‘Absconding’ NRI Husbands

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The Indian Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry is reportedly unhappy with the Union Law Ministry for rejecting its proposals to take actions against NRI grooms who have allegedly abandoned their wives.

The WCD ministry had made a draft proposal to bring in measures to protect women who were abandoned by NRI husbands soon after the wedding but the law ministry has questioned the legality of using a website to deliver summons to the men, according to the New Indian Express.

The draft on harsher punishments for NRI wife deserters, which included several changes in the CrPC Act, was prepared after discussions with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), a senior WCD ministry official told the publication.

“One of the suggestions was that since the wife deserters do not receive summons, the summons should be uploaded on a special website and if they fail to respond to it despite three notices—they will be considered as absconders,” the official said. “However, the law ministry had questioned the legality of the clause.”

According to the draft, Indians who go abroad after marriage will be required to register on a specially created website so that in case of any marital disputes in the future, the website would be used to serve a notice to the man.

Currently, notices are sent to NRI husbands through newspapers if they don’t respond to the summons, but it is probable that nobody reads the newspaper notices either, an official said, according to the report. He added that the Delhi High Court recently ruled that summons delivered through the messaging app WhatsApp will be considered legal if there are two double ticks.

With the court accepting WhatsApp-delivered summons as legal, “there is no reason why the law ministry should reject our proposal on the issue of validity,” another official said, the report added.

The WCD ministry also proposed impounding/cancelling the passport of the groom and attachment of their property in India but these too have been rejected, along with the rejection to the website. The WCD ministry is still going to pursue the matter with the law ministry, the report said.

There is no official data about the number of women abandoned by NRI husbands but some NGOs have indicated that there may be almost 50,000 such women, mostly in Punjab and Gujarat.

According to complaints received by the MEA between Jan. 1, 2015 and Nov. 30, 2017, an abandoned or tortured NRI woman calls the ministry every eight hours to seek help.