The Indian government has swung into action as the number of complaints against NRI spouses for harassing and deserting their Indian spouses has raised.

On Monday, Sushma Swaraj (India’s Minister for External Affairs) tabled a bill in the Indian Parliament cracking down on rising cases of fraudulent marriages involving non-resident Indians (NRI) to protect their spouses from being harmed or harassed.

Tabled in the upper house of parliament, the Registration of Marriage of Non-Resident Indian Bill 2019 recommends that all marriages involving an NRI must be registered within 30 days of the date of the marriage. If a person fails to register than a strict penal action will be taken.

The bill is further seeking to amend the Passports Act, 1967 in addition to safeguarding marriages involving NRIs, and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 in order to fix penal action in the event of a violation.

The proposed law bill is the joint effort amongst the Ministry for External Affairs (MEA), Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Women and Child Development, and Ministry of Law and Justice that recommends that the registration of every marriage solemnized between an NRI and an Indian citizen, within India or outside, should be made mandatory within 30 days of the date of the marriage taking place. The registration must be done with a marriage officer appointed under within whose jurisdiction that marriage has taken place.

This bill’s recommendations will apply to states of India after being passed in parliament except for Jammu & Kashmir.

The court will send a summons to the NRI who has not registered his/her marriage. It will be uploaded on a specially-designated website of the MEA in case the summons can’t be served to the NRI in question and deemed to have been served.

After the summon served, if NRI’s authorized agent fails to appear before the court then a warrant will be issued against him/her and this warrant again will be uploaded to the same website.

If the summoned NRI fails to appear before the court yet again after being issues warrant or uploaded on the ministry’s website, they can be pronounced proclaimed offender. This proclaimed notice will be uploaded on the website thereafter it shall be deemed to have been served to the accused. Being found offenders the court can also order the attachment of property of the accused.

Issuing this bill was necessitated due to a growing number of complaints received by her about their NRI spouses deserting or harassing them after marriage, mostly from India-based women, states Ms. Swaraj’s office. The purposed bill offers greater protection to Indian women married to NRIs and this would provide much-needed relief to all Indian women married to NRIs worldwide, Ms. Swaraj’s office added.

It was reported in the Indian media in 2018, that passports of eight NRI husbands had been canceled. Also, notices were issued against them under the Passports Act following complaints from their spouses.