Panel seeks law to protect women married to NRIs
Rise in cheating cases by NRI husbands a cause for worry
A parliamentary panel has recommended that the government should enact a special “NRI matrimonial law” to protect the brides from being duped by deceitful Non-Resident Indian grooms.
According to Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, a “special NRI matrimonial law” will provide the “distressed and abandoned brides with much needed remedial armour”, if it comprehensively deals with marriage, divorce, maintenance, child custody and other related issues.
The parliamentary panel’s recommendation came in the backdrop of increasing number of cases of women being cheated by NRI men through fraudulent marriages.
In its report on the government’s efforts to help women deserted by their NRI husbands, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs noted that the cheated women find it difficult to seek justice, as the ‘NRI marriages’ were governed, not only by legal system of India, but also by the laws of other countries.
The committee stressed on the need for a comprehensive law to tackle the problems related to NRI marriages. It recommended that the government should either enact a comprehensive legislation, or suitably amend existing legislation for the protection of women against malicious NRI marriages or do both.
“Amending current laws and introducing new rules and regulations would help victims of NRI marriages reclaim their fundamental rights to property, equality in marriage, the protection of family, freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment and, above all, dignity,” observed the committee.
A special cell was set up in the National Commission for Women in August 2009 to help women, who are abandoned, exploited, maltreated and physically or mentally assaulted by their NRI husbands.
In the 19 months since September 2009 till March 2011, the special cell of the NCW received altogether 594 complaints from women, who were duped by their NRI husbands.
In its report tabled in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, the parliamentary panel, however, noted that the NCW’s NRI cell could dispose of only 30 of the 813 complaints it received, because it could not yet start functioning properly as no specific budget had been allocated for it and no separate staff had been provided to it.
Though most of the cases reported to the NCW’s NRI cell have been from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra and Gujarat, similar complaints are also coming from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has a scheme for providing legal and financial assistance to Indian women deserted by their NRI and foreigner husbands for defraying initial costs of documentation and preparatory work for filing the cases by the empanelled NGOs, who have lawyers on their panel who render free services. The amount of legal and financial assistance has of late been enhanced from US$1,500 to US$3 000 per case for developed countries and US$2,000 per case for developing countries.
The parliamentary panel noted since the MOIA had been allocating only meagre amount of money to the Indian missions abroad to implement the scheme, only 82 women had got some financial assistance out of the 377 complaints received since 2006-07. The panel also asked the government to develop better coordination mechanism amongst the MOIA, Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Women and Child Development to help women cheated by the NRI men.