The central government has suggested key changes in the code of criminal procedure (CrPC), seeking to declare NRI husbands who desert their wives in India and don’t respond to court summons in the case thrice as “absconders.” Properties belonging to these people as well as their families will be confiscated as per the proposal, Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister Maneka Gandhi said on Feb. 12, the Hindustan Times reported.
If this change is made in the CrPc, then NRI husbands will not be able to ignore the court summons, Gandhi said. “After three summons it will be considered that the man is absconding and his name is proposed to be added to a list of absconders on the MEA website,” Gandhi said, the Times of India reported.
As of now, a woman who has been deserted by a Non-Resident Indian husband files a police complaint, and the police then write to the concerned embassy. The summon is usually served by the embassy. The changes have been recommended by the inter-ministerial panel headed by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, which has been formed to look into issues related to NRI marriage disputes.
“If three such notices have been served and the person does not appear, it will be assumed that he is evading summons and will be treated as an absconder. The enforcement agencies will be authorized to attach the property of such persons and their families. The MEA has already written to MHA proposing the changes to CrPC,” Rakesh Srivastava, secretary, WCD Ministry, said, the publication reported.
The amendment sought by the ministry in the code of criminal procedure will allow summons put up on the website of Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to be considered as “deemed to have been served,” Srivastava added, according to the report.
Meanwhile, seeking another change in the CrPC, the WCD ministry is planning to write to the Home Ministry to allow reporting of cases of child sexual abuse even years after the crime is alleged to have been committed or even when the victim becomes an adult. According to Srivastava, the WCD ministry will write to the Ministry of Home Affairs seeking an amendment to Section 473 of the CrPC that will permit the removal of time limit to file cases of child sexual abuse. The current rule stipulates that a case has to be reported within three years of the time when the alleged offence has been committed.
The rise in the number of NRI wives in distress has prompted the government to take several steps. As many as 3,328 complaints from Indian women who have NRI spouses were received by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and its missions or posts abroad since 2015, the MEA had said in December 2017.
In January this year, it was announced that a research on NRI brides in India will be conducted by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), an autonomous body under the Government of India. Also, the integrated nodal agency (INA) began reviewing requests of revocation of 10 passports made by the National Commission for Women,and asked MEA to expedite action against the husbands. The committee also proposed to the MEA in September 2017 that Aadhaar should be made mandatory for registration of NRI marriages in India.
The government is also planning to collect data on all registered marriages to make NRI grooms more accountable and curb incidents of desertion of wives in a foreign country, Gandhi said in November 2017.