NRIs who abandon their spouses may have their passports revoked

Tackling the ongoing issue of NRIs abandoning their spouses, in a bid to safeguard Indian women in Non-Resident Indian (NRI) marriages, the Indian government is making marriage registration compulsory.

Concerned by the number of NRIs who travel home for marriages but later abandon their wives and leave the country, the government is also considering impounding the passports of deserting NRIs so that they can be held accountable by their spouses in India, according to government officials.

Indian Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi.
Indian Women and Child Development Minister
Maneka Gandhi. Photo courtesy: Wikimedia

After a recommendation last month from an expert panel that all NRI marriages should be linked with Aadhaar cards for identity verification, at a meeting between Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) minister Maneka Gandhi to discuss the matter, senior Indian ministers decided to begin by making it mandatory for all registrars of marriages to report such registrations to the WCD.

Gandhi later said she would be communicating to the registrar of marriages in each state to report every marriage registration to the ministry, which would be linked to registrar offices by the end of this month.

Simultaneously, the top ministerial meeting on NRI marriages also decided to set up an integrated ministerial cell to serve as a one-stop shop for deserted wives who have to currently run from pillar to post to even lodge a complaint. The cell will work under WCD Ministry and will have among its members officers of the MEA, Ministry of Home and Ministry of Law.

The report has suggested the impounding of passports of deserting husbands to make them accountable to their wives in India. The government is considering other recommendations of the report as well for which existing laws would have to be amended.

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