Finally, there is a ray of hope for women facing harassment or desertion from their NRI husbands as the latter’s passports might get impounded or cancelled if the Central government accepts the recommendation of a high-level panel.
The panel has recommended a special provision to impound or cancel the passport of offending NRIs based on the wife's complaint, reported Hindustan Times (HT).
The nine-member panel is being headed by retired judge Arvind Kumar Goel (who is also the former chairman of Punjab’s State Commission for NRIs). It has also recommended that cases of domestic violence be included in the scope of extradition treaties that India inks with other countries.
“Once the passport is impounded, the NRI husband - if present in India - won't be able to leave the country until the case is settled. If abroad, he will have to be deported to India," said a source who has seen the report to HT.
This will facilitate extradition of NRI spouses to India for trial. At present, when it comes to desertion, domestic violence or dowry harassment cases, it is next to impossible to get the man to return for facing legal proceedings.
“The government is likely to accept these recommendations,” says officials in the Union women and child development (WCD) ministry, which is coordinating with the MEA on the issue.
Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi have vociferously taken up the cause of Indian wives deserted by NRI men and have also spoken on public platforms.
The panel has also given recommendation to increase the financial assistance given to such women from USD3000 to USD6000. The money is meant to provide assistance to the hapless ladies to avail counselling and legal services in foreign land.
Notably, there were 346 complaints from women married to NRIs in 2014 recorded by National Commission for Women (NCW). The complaints pertained to mostly about men preventing their wives from travelling by confiscating their passports; disappearing after marrying women in India; abandoning them in foreign countries; forcibly keeping children abroad with no contact with the mother; etc. However, WCD ministry officials say even this figure does not reflect the actual picture because women who come forward to lodge complaints are few.