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India seeks tougher laws to tackle NRI divorce, desertion

New Delhi, Sep. 12, 2008
Sampuran Singh

In view of the increasing number of cases where NRI husbands deserting their Indian brides were being easily let off by overseas authorities, the government has decided to hold discussion on the legalities of the issue with local authorities in five countries.

The decision was arrived during a inter-ministerial meeting participated by Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vyalar Ravi, Minister of state for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury and representations from Ministry of Law and Justice, National Commission for Women, National Human Rights Commission and state governments of Punjab and Andhra Pradesh.

Earlier an inter-ministerial sub-committee recommended that the team of Indian officials from these ministries should hold talks with USA, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand where the problem of desertion of Indian women were most acute.

"There are country specific legalities that need to be studied first. Thereafter, some changes or enhancing some clauses to curb the problem in these countries can be recommended after sensitising their local authorities about the problem of desertion of Indian brides," Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), K Mohandas told a news agency.

He added that to achieve the desired results, Indian embassies in these five countries are also being engaged on the issue and Indian officials would also travel abroad if required.

The recommendation was accepted by the committee on observation that it is very easy to seek for and get a divorce in these countries.

"Local authorities in these countries are not much aware of Indian customs and traditions whereby it is very difficult for an Indian woman to enter into nuptial ties again after a divorce," an MOIA official said.

The team comprising officials from Ministries of Overseas Indian Affairs, External Affairs, Law and Justice, Women and Child Development also wants to propose an agreement to assist deserted Indian women in these countries.

A final nod from the Cabinet is now awaited as the proposal has been sent for seeking a political consent by the inter-ministerial committee.

Once cleared, the team in assistance with Indian Embassies would establish contact with local authorities in these countries.

While members from the Women and Child Development ministry would document pending cases in courts of these countries, the Law and Justice team would study local regulations and assist the MOIA in framing suitable strategies for protecting the future of Indian brides.

Taking a number of steps in view of the rising incidents of Indian women being deserted by their NRI husbands, the government had already launched a scheme to provide legal assistance of USD 1,000 to deserted Indian wives for defending their cases abroad.

"With the launch of the scheme, both the MOIA and Indian Embassies are now better placed to tackle the issue. Going by our experience of the scheme, the need for putting in place a suitable legal interference was felt," the MOIA official said.

The government had also mooted the idea of a common marriage registration form that would require NRI grooms to provide their social security number, passport particulars and labour ID card details so that they could be tracked and detected in cases of desertion