Patterns of marital abuse and desertion faced by brides who marry beyond the borders of India to NRIs include people of Indian origin, who are born outside India or people of Indian origin who reside outside India. As per the 2018 report of National Commission for Women, 578 wife abandonment cases were registered against NRIs in India.
The women in most of these cases are helpless and powerless to legally contest their spouses’ actions either due to financial constraints or immigration issues that hampers them from travelling to enter appearances in court proceedings or due to lack of support and knowledge about the legal system in the foreign country.
Some of the issues faced by Indian women in NRI marriage are:
- Indian women deserted by an NRI husband and in-laws even before being taken to the foreign country of his residence.
- Violent manifestations in the form of mental or physical torture, sexual abuse or forced servitude by her NRI husband and in-laws including being forced out of matrimonial home for not meeting dowry demands.
- Deserting Indian women in foreign lands, without any means of sustenance or escape and without even the legal permission to stay in such foreign country.
- Cruelty against Indian woman by NRI husband and in-laws for giving birth to a female child.
- NRI husband remarries another woman in foreign country or is already married before marrying Indian bride and subsequent cruelty meted against Indian wife.
- NRI Husband taking advantage of laws in other country to initiate divorce proceedings/ child custody proceedings and obtaining ex-parte decree in the foreign country through fraudulent representations without the knowledge of Indian wife.
- Lack of legal and financial support to contest court cases pertaining to divorce or child custody initiated by the NRI husband.
- Economic abuse including deprivation of resources in the form of maintenance to mother and child, non-payment of bills and so on.
Remedies available by the Indian woman against desertion by the NRI husband and in-laws in foreign country:
The deserted woman can approach the Indian Consulate for assistance and can file a complaint with the local police against the NRI husband and in-laws. The woman can seek assistance of friends and relatives in the foreign country. A scheme is operated by Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs operates a scheme for giving legal/financial assistance to Indian women deserted by their overseas Indian/foreigner husbands through NGOs empanelled and legal organisations with Embassy / Consulate.
In case the NRI husband obtains an ex-parte divorce decree from a foreign court:
No marriage between an NRI man and an Indian woman which has taken place in India may be annulled by a foreign court. A provision has been inserted for adequate alimony to the wife from the properties of husband, both in India and abroad.
The decree granted by Indian courts may be made executable in foreign courts subject to the laws of that country. Similarly, a decree passed by foreign courts can be executed in India subject to compliance with the provisions contained in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
The Indian woman can register and file a complaint under section 498A of IPC and can also file a suit for maintenance under section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code against the NRI husband and their in-laws in India. Apart from this, complaint can be filed against husband and in- laws and women can claim maintenance for herself and child, if any under the Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
The Indian woman can also file for divorce and child custody in India against NRI husbands and claim accommodation/residence as per the economic status of the husband.
The Registration of Marriage of Non-Resident Indian Bill, 2019, proposes to offer greater protection to Indian women married to NRIs and serve as a deterrent to NRIs against harassment of their spouses.
- Prescribed for compulsory registration of marriages by an NRI within 30 days from the date of marriage.;
- Failure to register the marriage on time empowers the passport authority to impound or revoke a passport or travel document of an NRI, if it is brought to the notice of the authority that the NRI has not registered his marriage within a period of 30 days from the date of marriage;
- Empowers the courts to issue summons, warrants through the specifically designated website of the external affairs ministry;
- Attachment of properties, both movable and immovable, belonging to a proclaimed offender; and,
- If an NRI marries an Indian citizen, the marriage has to be registered as per local laws and if the marriage takes place abroad, it has to be registered with designated officers, appointed in foreign countries.