To deal with NRI men absconding from marriages, the Indian government announced it is considering crucial changes in criminal law that will punish those convicted of the crime. Union Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister Maneka Gandhi said earlier this week that a proposal to this effect has been sent to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
WCD secretary Rakesh Srivastava said the ministry has sought an amendment in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) that will allow a summons hosted on the website of ministry of external affairs (MEA) to be treated as “deemed to have been served.”
“If three such notices have been served and the person does not appear, it will be assumed that he is evading summons and will be treated as an absconder. The enforcement agencies will be authorised to attach the property of such persons and their families. The MEA has already written to MHA proposing the changes to CrPC,” Srivastava said at a press conference.
At present, a woman has to file a complaint with the police who, in turn, get in touch with the embassies concerned. The mission then serves the summons to the accused.
The government will also collect data on all registered marriages. The WCD ministry has also asked the law ministry to make registration of NRI marriages compulsory, which will be done by amending the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969.
Recommendations suggesting these changes were suggested by an inter-ministerial panel headed by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to review the legal and regulatory challenges faced by women deserted by NRI men. “The change in law will ensure that the person appears before the law enforcement agencies,” Srivastava said.
A nodal agency on NRI marital disputes has started its crackdown on “absconding husbands” by seeking revocation of passports of as many as 10 such offenders.
The decision was taken after Minister Gandhi chaired the first meeting of the integrated nodal agency on NRI marriages.
“INA reviewed the 10 cases of revocation of passport request made by NCW (National Commission for Women), and the MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) was asked to expedite action,” the WCD ministry tweeted. The body is headed by the WCD secretary and comprises officials from the ministries of law, external affairs and home.
According to reports, latest statistics show that the MEA has received 3,328 distressed calls from NRI wives between January 2015 and November 2017.
The WCD ministry is also writing to the MHA to indefinitely increase the time limit for reporting cases of child sexual abuse including molestation from the current rule that says this has to be done within three years of commission of the offence.