With the increasing threat of desertions of Indian wives in NRI marriages, a high ministerial meeting took place to tackle the issue, came out with the decision, where all the registered marriages shall be reported to the Government. The reporting shall be done by all the State Registrars by the end of the month, to the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
Sushma Swaraj (Minister of External Affairs), Ravishankar Prasad (Law Minister), Maneka Gandhi (Women and Child Development Minister) and Officers of the Home and Immigration Departments were the attendees of the meeting.
An Integrated Nodal Agency comprising of Officers from the above mentioned Ministries would be put in place to deal with the problems of abandoned wives holistically, which would help women take their fight forward and get justice.
It was after the ministerial deliberations, on the report of a nine member committee of MEA, on NRI desertions, that these decisions were taken. The committee was chaired by Justice Arvind Goel (Retd.) and former Chairman of the Punjab NRI Commission. Two of its suggestions were immediately accepted and orders were given to put them into effect, which included the linking of information of registered marriages with the WCD website and the setting up of a Nodal Agency for speedy justice.
The committee did not stop here, it also suggested controlling the abandonment of women, by NRI husbands through compulsory registration of marriages and by impounding the passports of runaway NRI grooms.
An attempt to make the marriage registration mandatory would require legislative intervention since the matter is left to the state, being in the concurrent list.
At present, there is no central law in place to mandate compulsory registration of marriages in India. States like Punjab have state-level laws, which are not doing well whereas the Hindu Marriage Act is stressing on ceremonies and rituals to solemnize a marriage, which makes civil registration of marriages optional.
The experts say registration of marriages is the only way to get a hold on such NRI marriages, where otherwise the grooms provide no details of their jobs, passports and residence in India, making it easier for them to abandon their wives.
The information about the status of marriages is being described as the start of the long effort to end the abandonment of Indian women in NRI marriages and to make men accountable to their wives.
- Now, govt. to keep track on NRI weddings, ‘The Tribune’, 7th November, Tuesday, 2017 available at http://epaper.tribuneindia.com/1421189/The-Tribune/TT_07_November_2017#page/16/2
- NRI marital disputes: Govt to collect data of all registered marriages, ‘The Indian Express’, 6th November, 2017, available at http://indianexpress.com/article/india/nri-marital-disputes-govt-to-collect-data-of-all-registered-marriages-4925692/
- States told to share marriage registration data with centre, ‘Hindustantimes’, 6th November, available at http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/states-told-to-share-marriage-registration-data-with-centre/story-2miEqDL7tdgYbuxjEn8IoO.html
- Abandoned NRI wives: Indian government to collect data of all registered marriages, ‘SBS’, 7th November, 2017, available at http://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/hindi/en/article/2017/11/07/abandoned-nri-wives-indian-government-collect-data-all-registered-marriages