Non-Resident Indians who abandon their wives in India, could have their properties confiscated under new regulations discussed by the Indian Ministry of Women and Child Development.
The Indian TV news network News18 reported on Tuesday that an “inter-ministerial committee has recommended that either the properties of the husband or his relatives should be seized” in cases where men who marry women in India.
The abandonment of wives remains a widespread problem in cases where NRI husbands – often techies, bankers and other professionals – marry women from various parts of India in arranged marriages.
The men then exploit loopholes in immigration rules in countries such as the UK by travelling with their wives – often on the pretext of a holiday – only to abandon them, return to their country of residence and cancelling their “dependent” visas.
The causes vary from dowry issues to domestic abuse.
According to official Indian government statistics, the Ministry of External Affairs received 3,328 distress calls from such victims between January 1, 2015, and November 30, 2017.
Campaigners however, say that the real number is manifold the official version. The UK-based first generation migrant network Indian Ladies in UK has handled hundreds of such cases of abandonment in just the two years since its establishment.
The proposals by the Ministry of Women and Child Development is the latest attempt by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to formulate a legal basis to deal with the issue.
Last year, the Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, announced a plan to link all NRI marriages to a central data base at the ministry in order to better track victims and perpetrators.
The government had also then decided that passports of the NRI husbands would too be cancelled when such an issue of abandonment is brought to the notice of the courts.
The WCD ministry has also asked the law ministry to make registration of NRI marriages compulsory, which will be done by amending the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969.
The MEA will also be hosting a page on its website where it will post summons against absconding husbands.