The Indian diaspora is 17.5 million, according to a 2019 UN report. Indians abroad are those who migrated for better employment and academic opportunities and those born to migrant parents abroad.
Often, diaspora parents want Indian brides for their foreign-born sons, hoping to revitalize Indian culture and traditions in their resident country and prevent foreign brides’ entry. For resident Indian parents and prospective brides and grooms, such alliances are seen as passages to greener pastures. But, sadly, many Indian women become victims of abuse and abandonment.
Numerous complaints necessitated an urgent need to address the issues of abuse and abandonment. The Ministry of External Affairs received 6,094 complaints between January 2015 and October 2019. The government in 2019 introduced a Bill on Registration of Marriage of Non-Resident of India in the Rajya Sabha.
Common issues faced by Indian women abroad, as per the Ministry of External Affairs, include:
- Abandonment by husband/in-laws
- Domestic violence
- Physical and mental harassment or abuse, forcing them to return to India
- Polygamous NRI husband
- Dowry demand
- A lenient legal divorce system abroad
Registration of Marriage of Non-Resident of India Bill Proposal
All NRIs, including PIOs, marrying Indian women (resident or NRI) are covered in this bill. Currently, the bill does not specify the number of days abroad for NRI classification.
The bill proposes impounding or revoking the passport of NRIs failing to register marriage within 30 days. The Indian embassies would be notified of the revoked or impounded passports, and the embassies, in turn, would inform the authorities in the country of residence.
Further, the properties—movable or immovable—of proclaimed offenders or those who dishonored repeated warrants to appear in court can be attached by the Indian courts.
The law will apply to matrimonies held outside India, as well.
In India, a marriage is registered under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, or the Special Marriage Act, 1954. The former applies to Hindus and the latter to all Indian citizens. The marriage is registered at the relevant Sub-Divisional Magistrate office.
Visit the local Indian embassy if the marriage is solemnized abroad. The Foreign Marriage Act, 1969, governs such marriages.
Status of the Bill
A standing committee on external affairs approved the bill’s registration for further parliamentary discussion in March 2020. The committee, in its report, has expressed reservations on the passport revocation provisions of the bill. It recommended that the external affairs ministry consider issuing a show cause notice or an exemplary fine before impounding or revocation of passport.
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