Modi government proceeds to form strict rules to punish NRI husbands who abandon or harass spouse

An inter-ministerial panel is considering to implement very strict rules to address thousands of complaints received by the respective ministries of cases where NRI husbands either abandon or harass their wives. According to reports, the panel met yesterday and decided to implement stricter rules.

The panel includes MEA Sushma Swaraj, WCD Maneka Gandhi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. According to reports, the inter-ministerial panel has decided to make registration of marriage mandatory for the NRIs and update their passports with their marital status. Failure to update their marital status in passports within a stipulated time might even get the passports of the NRIs revoked. The group of ministers have reportedly decided that soon the necessary changes will be made in the Passport Act.

The Law Ministry has reportedly agreed to incorporate the necessary clause in the Registrations of Birth and Deaths Act, 1969. The panel also reportedly decided to put up the legal summons for absconding NRIs on the official website of the Ministry of External Affairs. Such summons will be then considered ‘deemed to have been served’. This decision has been taken after considering the fact that hundreds of NRIs simply do not respond to the legal summons or just keep changing their addresses to avoid the summons. The Home Ministry has already agreed to changes in the Code of Criminal Procedure that will consider the summons on the MEA website as ‘served’.

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The ministries of external affairs and women and child development have reportedly suggested the attachment of properties owned by the NRI husband in the country in case he abandons his wife. But the law ministry has reportedly suggested that the in case the husband does not own properties, the attachment of shared parental property might not be legally tenable. The Law Ministry has reportedly been asked by the panel to consider the proposal and revert with suggested ways within a week’s time.

The passports of NRIs who do no responds to legal summons will also be revoked. The panel has agreed that the necessary amendments in the Code of Criminal Procedure, Registrations and Passport Acts will be worked upon and after legal scrutiny, the moves will be shaped into a cabinet proposal.

Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh had reportedly informed the parliament last year that since 2015, the MEA has received about 3328 complaints from missions abroad about marital disputes with spouses. The problems range from husbands abandoning their wives in India after marrying, seizing their passports abroad and preventing travel, abandoning wives in another country and sending wives back home and keeping her away from children.

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