WCD Minister Krishna Tirath Opens National Seminar on “Issues Relating to NRI Marriages”

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EQUALITY INDIA NEWS / A SHAKTI VAHINI RESEARCH INITIATIVE

Inaugurating a National Seminar on “Issues Relating to NRI Marriages” in New Delhi today Smt. Krishna Tirath, Minister of Women & Child Development (WCD) reasserted that Registration of Marriages needs to be made mandatory in the country. She said that Ministry of External Affairs MEA has set-up special cell in each mission to render help to the victims of NRI Marriages. She asked Officers from the Indian Embassies to visit the homes in foreign land to ensure the wellbeing of girls facing problems in their marriage to NRIs. She added that it is equally important to create awareness in the States & Union Territories especially for girls from the rural background. NGOs and religious places need to put up informative pamphlets and boards to focus on registering NRI Marriages. This will be extremely helpful in case of desertion or legal proceedings. She emphasized the need for concrete legislation in the said matter. Also Registration in that country where the girl is going to settle should also be done, she added.

Speaking on the occasion Shri Didar Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) suggested that the issues of NRI Marriages need to be dealt in collaboration and cooperation with National Commission for Women (NCW) to find options for its betterment. There are 10 countries where the problems are more acute. He emphasised that the issues in NRI marriage are a community affair which need to be addressed by the society as a whole. He informed that a review of the legal scheme is underway by MOIA in which legal assistance is given to the victims of NRI marriages. MOIA has identified Government personnel, NGOs, Legal experts from different States where the problem is acute.

Shri D K Sikri, Secretary, Ministry of WCD said the seminar on NRI marriages is timely as it is very important to address the vulnerability of these NRI marriages. The problems of NRI marriages are more acute in States like Punjab, Kerala, Delhi, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. He cited two major problems, First abduction of children from NRI girls and Second, ladies who got married and had not gone abroad after marriage. He suggested that Government can still do something as far as issue of abduction of children is involved. Whereas the second problem of desertion is concerned, we do not have convention as for now. This is a matter of civil law and until and unless if there is criminality involved, we cannot indulge in extradition treaty. About 2.5 million people from Punjab go abroad to get NRI marriages, hence, urgent need to check the credentials of the NRI Grooms and sensitize relations about Do’s and Don’t’s in the NRI Marriages.

Dr. Girija Vyas, Chairperson, NCW addressing the third such seminar on issues relating to NRI marriages to find out possible solution thereof and to bring about the national consensus, said that NRI Grooms who come down to India to marry with selfish intention show big dreams to the young girls only to break them. Under the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1956, if both the parties are Hindu at the time of Marriage, then the parties have to file divorce in the country of their origin that is in India. Disturbed by the regular grievance of cheating and desertion suffered by the Indian women wedded to the NRI, the Indian Government has decided to grant legal aid and counselling to these victims through the NGOs. The Government is setting up Overseas Indian Centres in countries which are inhabited by large Indian population. To begin with, Centres are being set up in the USA, Gulf countries, Europe, Africa and South East Asia. These Centres will offer legal, health and social counselling and will have helpline to redress grievances of affected women.

NCW has been made the coordinating agency at the national level to receive and process all complaints relating to Indian women deserted by the overseas Indian husbands by the notification of the Ministry of Overseas India Affairs in 2009. This is as per the recommendations of the Parliament Committee on Empowerment of Women. The Commission has started NRI Cell dealing exclusively with matters relating to deserted Indian women by their overseas Indian husbands. 515 numbers of complaints have been registered till 31st December, 2010 in which 416 are from India, 15 from USA, 11 from Australia, 8 from U.K., 6 from Thailand, and 5 from UAE. In India, maximum numbers of cases are from Delhi 68, followed by UP 42, Haryana 36, Punjab 27, Maharashtra 27, Gujarat 25, Andhra Pradesh 24, and 13 cases each from West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. The Committee on Empowerment of Women established for solving the problem drawn from the Supreme Court has suggested that any Court abroad cannot dismiss the marriage solemnised in India and the alimony should be given to the girl. Dr. Girija Vyas also stressed the need for compulsory registration of marriages solemnised in India. There is a need for a separate legislation to address issues including matrimonial discord, maintenance of spouses and children, child custody, settlement of property and others. This can serve as a comprehensive ready-reference for foreign courts deciding litigation between NRI and Indian citizens.

Member NCW Yasmeen Abrar, Addl. Secretary (Foreigners) Ministry of Home Affairs, Shri Anil Goswami, Dr. Mohini Giri, Ex Chairperson NCW, and Smt. Barkha Singh, Chairperson, Delhi State Commission for Women were among those who participated in the day long deliberations.

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