INDIA’S foreign minister Sushma Swaraj introduced a bill in the upper house of parliament, the Rajya Sabha, that seeks the registration of marriages involving non-resident Indians (NRIs) within 30 days of the couples getting wed.
Introduced on February 11, the bill seeks to “safeguard the interests of Indian women trapped in fraudulent marriages with NRIs”.
The proposed law will be applicable to NRIs marrying Indian women both within or outside India.
According to its provisions, the marriage – whether it is solemnised in India or outside – should be registered within a period of 30 days from when the couple ties the knot.
If an NRI man fails to do so, Indian authorities will have the right to impound or revoke his passport. It also allows Indian courts to issue summons through the designated website of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and attach properties belonging to the NRI – if he does not appear before the court.
The MEA introduced the bill following several complaints from Indian nationals, mostly women, who are either deserted or harassed by their NRI spouses and in some cases, left abandoned.
The bill has been championed by the MEA, the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Law and Justice and it is expected to serve as a deterrent for NRIs to use marriage as an “exploitation tool”.
Swaraj said the Indian government revoked the passports of 25 NRI husbands for abandoning their wives.
Highlighting the plight of wives abandoned by NRI husbands, the National Commission for Women (NCW) wrote to the MEA, stating that “in many cases where despite the marriage having been solemnized in accordance with the personal laws of the country and in India, foreign courts decide the cases and dissolve marriages.”
The MEA said it received hundreds of complaints about NRI men abandoning their wives abroad and subjecting them to physical and mental abuse.
It added that 3,328 complaints were received between January 2015 and November 2017 from Indian women deserted by their NRI husbands.