In an apparent revision to what was said last week about registration of NRI marriages, the Ministry of Women and Child Development said on June 13 that all NRI marriages need to be registered within seven days, or else passports and visas will not be issued, PTI reported. Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi had last week said that NRI marriages would need to be registered within 48 hours.
This new decision was taken after an inter-ministerial panel comprising Gandhi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad sat down to chart out legal solutions for issues faced by women abandoned by NRI husbands.
“The group of ministers decided that necessary amendments will have to be made in the Passport Act to incorporate the changes,” an official who spoke to Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity said.
The panel that met on June 13 also decided to make registration of NRI marriages with registrars mandatory. “The law ministry has agreed to incorporate the necessary clause by amending the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969,” the official further said.
In all, as per the official, the move would require amendment of three legislations – the Code of Criminal Procedure, Marriage Act and the Passports Act. In effort to make the decision taken at the meeting effect, the three ministries were asked to formulate a draft legal amendments.
Currently there is no time frame for marriage registration in India, although a Law Commission has recommended that time limit be imposed to register marriages. The recommendation is that if the marriage is not registered within 30 days, a penalty of Rs 5 per day could be imposed.
The Women and Child Development Ministry had earlier set up an Integrated Nodal Agency with representatives from the ministries of External Affairs, Home Affairs and Law and Justice to look into matrimonial disputes involving NRIs. According to the ministry, look-out circulars are issued as per criteria defined by the Home Ministry, for keeping a watch on arrival or departure of absconding NRI husbands and preventing them from leaving India. This was a recommendation of the National Commission for Women and the decision taken by the Integrated Nodal Agency.
Punjab has already formulated guidelines making registration of NRI marriages compulsory, as per the Hindustan Times. The holding of properties of NRI offenders who abandon their wives in escrow was also discussed by the panel.