Expressing concern over the rising incidence of fraudulent marriages of Indian girls with non-resident Indian (NRI) men, a Parliamentary Standing Committee has recommended that the government enact a comprehensive legislation or suitably amend existing laws for the protection of women against malicious NRI marriages.

In its report on “Problems relating to Overseas Indian Marriages: Scheme for providing Legal/Financial Assistance/ Rehabilitation to Indian Women deserted by their Overseas Indian Spouses”, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs has said that a special NRI matrimonial law that deals comprehensively with marriage, divorce, maintenance, child custody and related issues would provide the distressed and abandoned brides with much needed remedial armour.

Tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, the report said amending current laws and introducing new rules and regulations would help victims of NRI marriages reclaim their fundamental rights to property, equality in marriage, protection of family, freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment and above all, dignity.

The Committee has said that more reciprocal bilateral treaties, especially with countries with a large number of Indians who continue to be not covered for automatic enforcement of foreign decrees, may be worked out.

It observed that a few States facing problems of NRI marriages have made the registration of marriages compulsory and the government has also introduced the Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill 2012, in the Rajya Sabha. The Amendment Bill provides for compulsory registration of marriages without affecting in any manner the State law making provisions for compulsory registration of marriage in their respective States. “The Committee, however, have desired that certificates of NRI marriages issued by the States or under the proposed Act must include the security number of the foreign home of the NRI husband along with the passport number and relevant details in brief.”

To make it more effective, the photocopy of the valid passport of the NRI husband should be pasted in the marriage register maintained with the authorities before marriage certificate is actually issued to the parties. Pasting of mandatory certificate of marriage on the wife’s passport may certainly provide documentary evidence and proof of her marriage, on being abandoned. The report also suggests that no NRI marriages should be registered without the presence of bride and the bridegroom.

The panel has found that in the name of complexity of the matter and involvement of international protocol and jurisdiction issues and role of State Governments, the Ministries/organization of the Central Government have not paid the desired attention to develop a system to support the abandoned women. The Committee felt that providing legal, financial and other required assistance to the victims and the sensitization of various authorities in foreign land as well as local authorities particularly the police are very vital in such situation.

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