In the last three and a half years, as many as 4698 complaints were registered from distressed Indian women deserted by NRI husbands, as revealed by the Ministry of External Affairs. Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said the complaints were received between January 2016 and May 31, 2019, as he replied to a question in the Lok Sabha.
“The government has adopted a multi-pronged approach to give respite to women who have been deserted by their Non-Resident Indian (NRI) husbands."
“The government has adopted a multi-pronged approach to give respite to women who have been deserted by their Non-Resident Indian (NRI) husbands. The ministry provides counselling and guidance, and information on legal procedures and mechanisms to serve judicial summons to accused NRI husbands. Information on filing a judicial case in India, issuing Look out Circulars, impounding and revocation of the Indian passport of the husbands is also provided by the ministry. To provide online consular assistance expeditiously to Indian nationals who are in distress abroad, including marital dispute, the MADAD portal was launched in 2015,” he said in his statement.
“The amount of legal and financial assistance to distressed Indian women has also been increased to USD 4000 per case. The assistance is released to the empanelled legal counsel of the applicant or Indian community association or women's organisation or NGO concerned to enable it to take steps to assist the woman in documentation and preparatory work for filing the case. So far, the INA has had 15 sittings and has issued eight Look out Circulars against the erring spouses. It was felt that these measures are not sufficient and the existing laws need to be amended to provide a more effective solution to the problem. Therefore, a bill titled ‘The Registration of Marriage of Non-Resident Indian Bill, 2019’ was introduced in Rajya Sabha on February 11, 2019.” the minister added.
NRI husbands and their torture towards their wives are not at all new. In fact, the government revoked passports of 45 NRI men for abandoning wives and fleeing. On top of cancelling their passports, in some cases, the government instructed the state police to issue Look-out-Circulars (LoC). In criminal matters involving NRIs, the investigating officer can issue LoC in cognizable offenses when the husband from overseas is deliberately dodging arrest.
The law made to prevent NRI husbands from abandoning their wives, in February, mandated the NRI husband to compulsorily register their marriages within a week and update their marital status on their passports. If they fail to update their marital status on passports, the document may get revoked by the authorities. The decision was taken by an inter-ministerial panel. They also acknowledged that necessary amendments will have to be made in the Passport Act to incorporate the changes.
The need for the introduction of the bill emerged due to numerous complaints received from Indian nationals, mostly women who were deserted or harassed by their Non-Resident Indian spouses. The bill is a great endeavour to offer greater protection to Indian women married to NRIs. This will also serve as a deterrent to NRIs against harassment of their spouses. This would also provide to be much-needed relief to all Indian women married to NRIs worldwide.