Proposals to punish NRI wife-deserters could be a life saver

“I did not even get time to grieve after my wife died of breast cancer in September last year. I was too busy fighting for my daughter, Sarita, whose husband left her,” Jalandhar resident Jai Gopal told HT recently. Sarita’s husband Saurabh Dharna, the report added, works in Melbourne and wants to have nothing to do with her. According to the National Commission for Women, there are 346 complaints from women married to NRIs in 2014. And it has never been easy for these women to get justice. Speaking to HT earlier, Punjab women commission chairperson Paramjit Kaur Landran admitted that abandoned wives can “grow old” fighting such cases because it’s “ not easy to get NRI grooms extradited”. But there could be some hope for these women thanks to a set of proposals that the government is considering: A high-level panel has recommended that NRIs who harass their wives or desert them could face impoundment or cancellation of their passport.
The panel has also recommended that cases of domestic violence be included in the scope of extradition treaties that India signs with other countries. “Once the passport is impounded, the NRI husband — if present in India — won’t be able to leave the country until the case is settled. If abroad, he will have to be deported to India,” a source privy to the committee’s report, which was submitted to the MEA last month, told HT.
Earlier in the year, the Centre had also promised to set up a single-window portal for Indian women facing abandonment or divorce or other problems from their NRI husbands. The new site will have advice on how to proceed with a case, including approaching the Indian mission, seeking help of empanelled lawyers and NGOs, etc. It will also have precautions to be taken before marrying an NRI. Currently, measures include legal and financial — USD 3,000 in developed countries and USD 2,000 in developing ones — assistance for women who face abandonment or divorce proceedings within 15 years. In 2007, the then Overseas Indian Affairs ministry came up with a handbook on NRI marriages.
If the panel recommendations are accepted, it will be a lifesaver for those who have been wronged and, will hopefully, work as a deterrent for men from behaving in an irresponsible and heartless manner. But let’s not forget that much of the problem can be avoided if parents of women do proper due diligence before finalising such marriages.
Read the rest on Hindustan Times

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