A serious problem which the Indian Government has not been able to tackle are the cases against NRI husbands who have abandoned their brides. Many NRI men run a racket of coming to India in order to get married and extort dowry from the bride and her relatives on the pretext of being a NRI. These NRI husbands desert their wives post marriage and the new brides have to face a lot of problems on account of their marital status including financial difficulties.
There is no law in India which deals with this specific problem. A case can be registered against the NRI husband under Section 498A of IPC which provide for punishment for cruelty towards a woman or under the Dowry Prohibition Act. But, since the NRI husbands who desert their wives usually flee the country after coercing the bride or her family to meet their unlawful dowry demands, prosecuting them is usually near to impossible.
In order to take care of this issue of absconding NRI husbands, a Bill on Registration of Marriage of non-Resident of India was introduced by the government. The objective of the Bill is to create more accountability and offer more protection against exploitation of Indian women by their NRI spouses. It envisages (i) Registration of Marriages by Non-Resident Indians; (ii) Amendment of the Passports Act 1967 and (iii) Amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973.
According to the provisions of the Bill, the compulsory registration of marriage within thirty days of marriage in India or abroad would provide better enforcement of rights of the deserted spouse under various family laws. Similarly, the Amendment to the Passport Act would empower the Passport Authority to impound or revoke the passport of NRI, if it is brought to his notice that the NRI has not registered his marriage within 30 days from the date of marriage. The Amendments to CrPC, 1973 would empower the Courts for issuance of summons, warrants through the specially designated website of the Ministry of External Affairs. It also provides provisions for attachment of properties belonging to the NRI, if he does not appear before the Court and is declared as Proclaimed Offender by the Court.
Once this Bill is enacted, it would act as a catalyst in nabbing absconding NRI husbands. It would also act as a deterrent and discourage NRIs from committing this crime.
Another issue which is faced by brides married to NRI husbands is Dowry Demands and Domestic Violence by husband after the couple has moved abroad. In such cases, the court of the country in which the couple resides has jurisdiction. The aggrieved woman can approach the nearest Indian Embassy/ Consulate for help or file a complaint with the local police. The aggrieved woman can also contact the Indian mission who can help her file a case against her husband in the foreign country.
An alternate recourse available is to come back to India and a file a case here. By virtue of Section 188 of the CrPc, offences committed outside India would be deemed to be committed within India. Therefore, a complaint can be filed in India for atrocities committed against her by her NRI husband.
With the increase in offences by NRI men against Indian women, it is always advisable to do a thorough background check before falling in the trap and marrying a deserter NRI husband. Further, with the enactment of the Registration of Marriage of non-Resident Indian bill, it would be easier to catch the NRI husbands who coerce and abandon their wives.