As many as 4,698 complaints from distressed Indian women deserted by their NRI husbands were addressed in the last three and a half years, the Ministry of External Affairs said Wednesday.
Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said the complaints were received between January 2016 and May 31, 2019.
The government has adopted a multi-pronged approach to give respite to women who have been deserted by their Non Resident Indian (NRI) husbands, he said.
The ministry provides counselling and guidance, and information on legal procedures and mechanisms to serve judicial summons to accused NRI husbands, Muraleedharan said.
Information on filing a judicial case in India, issuing look out circulars, impounding and revocation of Indian passport of the husbands is also provide by the ministry, he said.
To provide online consular assistance expeditiously to Indian nationals who are in distress abroad, including marital dispute, the MADAD portal was launched in 2015, Muraleedharan said.
The minister said a module marital disputes was added to the portal to provide a digital platform to distressed Indian nationals married to NRIs.
To provide financial and legal assistance to distressed women married to NRI men by all Missions and Posts, the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) Guidelines were revised in September 2017, he said.
“The amount of legal and financial assistance to distressed Indian women has also been increased to $4000 per case,” the minister said.
“The assistance is released to the empanelled legal counsel of the applicant or Indian community association or women’s organisation or NGO concerned to enable it to take steps to assist the woman in documentation and preparatory work for filing the case,” Muraleedharan said.
He said an expert committee was set up to identify the legal and regulatory challenges faced by Indians married to overseas Indian nationals and suggest amendments in existing legislations or Acts, and new policies, laws and regulations.
Upon recommendation of the expert committee, an Integrated Nodal Agency was constituted, the minister added. “So far, the INA has had 15 sittings and has issued eight look out circulars against the erring spouses,” he said.
It was felt that these measures are not sufficient and the existing laws need to be amended to provide a more effective solution to the problem, Muraleedhran said.
Therefore, a bill titled The Registration of Marriage of Non-Resident Indian Bill, 2019 was introduced in Rajya Sabha on February 11, 2019, he said, adding that the proposed legislation would offer greater protection to Indian citizens married to NRIs.
It will also help as a deterrent to the Non Resident Indians against harassment of their spouses, and force the accused NRI spouse to come back to India to face legal consequences of his overt and covert acts, the minister said.