After suspending passports of 50 absconding NRI husbands in last three months, the Regional Passport Office (RPO) in Chandigarh, Punjab, has started informing the Indian embassies in respective countries about the suspension status of the documents, the Hindustan Times reported.
The step is a part of the tough initiatives being taken by the Indian government against NRI men who have fled the country, leaving their wives behind. Acting on the complaints from several women who have been abandoned by their husbands living abroad, the passport offices started suspending the passports of the accused in June this year. It has now also started suspending the passports of the parents of these men, in an effort to ensure the return of the fugitive husbands and to present them before law, the report added.
Other than informing the embassies of the countries where the NRI grooms are believed to be living, the RPO is also planning to inform the accused men’s employers of their passport status.
“The aim is to get these NRIs back and face the criminal cases,” the publication cited Regional Passport Officer (RPO) Sibash Kabiraj as saying. Citing an example, the RPO told the publication that it will write to the medical university in Ukraine, where one such NRI man is employed as a foreign student coordinator. The passport of the NRI, Awinderpal Singh, has been suspended. He was married to Satwinder Kaur from Ludhiana in February 2009, the report said. Kaur told the publication that she was forced to leave her government teaching job one year after her marriage. In 2015, Singh went abroad after taking money from her parents. He showed up in 2016 at a family wedding but after that he disappeared without any intimation. They finally filed an FIR against him and his parents.
The Women and Child Development Ministry, along with the ministeries of law and external affairs in India have come up with a number of steps to tackle the issue of NRI men deserting their wives in India. A website is under development on which notices and warrants against them will be posted, and deemed as served. If the accused NRI does not respond, he would be declared a proclaimed offender and legal action will be initiated against him. The proposal to launch the website has been cleared by the relevant ministries.
The new law will also enable the government to cancel the passport of the accused NRI as well as confiscate his property in India.
“We will not only cancel the passport but also confiscate the property. And NRIs who don’t return, their property could be sold to give financial aid to their aggrieved wives. We will have to make some amendments in the Code of Criminal Procedure,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said at a conference held over the issue of NRI marriages and trafficking of women and children in July this year.
Until the new law comes into place, an inter-ministerial committee has been set up to look into complaints against NRI husbands accused of abandoning their wives.
In May this year, the Indian government revoked passports of five NRI men who were accused of abandoning their wives within a short span of their marriage or after disputes abroad.