New Delhi: How many times have we heard about an NRI coming to India looking for a “cultural” wife and then dumping the woman in an unknown land shortly after marriage? That might change soon with the government planning to clamp down on the offenders.
Sources have told that “an inter-ministerial committee has recommended that either the properties of the husband or his relatives should be seized in such cases.”
Such attachment of property is usually done in civil cases to either compel the presence of the accused in the court or provide monetary support to the complainant who would otherwise be hapless since the accused spouse usually does not respond to court summons taking advantage of their location.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development has confirmed that a proposal to seize the property of relatives has been made and soon there could be a legal remedy for abandoned women to claim justice.
Recent statistics indicate that the Ministry of External Affairs received 3,328 distress calls from NRI women between January 1, 2015, and November 30, 2017.
The women usually face abandonment, harassment, dowry demands, physical abuse and passport seizure.
However, this would not be the first attempt by the NDA government to look into the issue of abandoned wives after being married off into foreign countries. Last year, Minister for Women and Child Development (WCD), Maneka Gandhi, had said, “From now registration of all marriages will be linked to the women and child development ministry’s website. This will be in place by the end of this month.”
That decision was taken during an inter-ministerial meeting where Minister of External Affairs (MEA) Sushma Swaraj, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad were present besides Gandhi.
During the meeting, the decision to appoint an integrated nodal agency under the WCD to look into complaints related to NRI marriages too was taken.
The government had also then decided that passports of the NRI husbands would too be cancelled when such an issue of abandonment is brought to the notice of the courts.
Some states in India have made registration of marriages mandatory but a large number of states still haven’t done so.
NGO Manavi had too earlier published a paper stating that Gujarat was home to 12,000 abandoned women in 2004 and approximately 25,000 wives of NRI men were found to be deserted in Punjab in 2007.
Earlier in June 2017, a three-member committee comprising officials of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Home Affairs decided to launch a web portal to help women abandoned by their NRI husbands abroad.