In a bid to protect Indian women from exploitation by NRI husbands, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has introduced a Bill on Registration of Marriage of NRIs in the Upper House of Parliament.
The new Bill proposes mandatory registration within 30 days of marriage held in India or abroad. The ministry hopes this move will provide better enforcement of rights for the deserted woman under the family laws. Also there are amendments proposed to the Passports Act 1967 and the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, whereby if the marriage isn't registered within 30 days, the passport of the NRI will be revoked, summons and warrant be issued. Despite all this, if the NRI fails to appear in court, his properties will be attached and he will be declared 'Proclaimed Offender'.
Social activists lauded the move, which will restrict NRI husbands from using marriage as a tool of exploitation and making money.
Abu Dhabi-based activist Ayisha Zakkheer Hussain hailed the move to revoke passport of the culprit as 'a big step forward in the right direction'.
"We see many cases of forged marriage with bogus documents. The ulterior motive is to cheat the woman for money. Since marriage takes place outside India, there are no records or legal documents for further procedures to be initiated against the offender. So once this Bill is passed, such practices will be curbed and this will be a big relief for women here and back in India. This will be a useful weapon in their fight and curtail irregularity to a great extent."
She said this sort of trend is seen mostly in Europe and the US, and not in the UAE.
"We don't see such cases here because of stringent rules. None can do fraud and escape from here. These cases are mostly in the US, Canada and European nations where expats enjoy many social privileges and tax benefits, which lead to such frauds. But the minister has directly taken up such cases. And this Bill will help create more awareness about the need for registration of marriage."
Another activist, Vidyadharan Ereuthinad, said: "Women from many states of India end up being victims. Actually, there are many from other countries, too. In most of the cases, women are cheated. They are exploited, abused and even forced into flesh trade. Once this Bill becomes law, it will help end such exploitation. It would be better if there is greater role for Indian missions in this aspect of registration of marriages. Also, the local authorities should take stringent steps to curb such practices," Ereuthinad added.
Zubi 'still alive' to fight marital crimes, fraud
Former UAE resident Zubi Zaidi, who got cheated in her marriage, has lauded the Bill on Registration of Marriage of NRIs. In 2014, Zubi, who is from the Indian city of Lucknow, reached Abu Dhabi shores only to realise her marriage was a fraud and done only for the money. Khaleej Times had reported her plight in July 2018. Today, she continues her fight and supports others in distress through Soch Foundation, an NGO, and her 'Still Alive' forum.
"This bill is vindication of our fight. We had recently protested in New Delhi's Jantar Mantar. We had got an assurance from External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj that our cries for help will not go unanswered. She has kept her word. Let's see how the implementation happens," the advocate said over phone from Lucknow.
Zubi said her support groups are trying to create awareness among women about their rights against 'planned crimes'.
"This isn't just a husband-wife problem but a planned crime. There is a similar pattern in every case - marry, enjoy wedlock for a while, and then start harassment till the woman commits suicide or ends the marriage. If they don't succeed, they simply disappear. I have three similar cases from the UAE and one from Saudi Arabia. We are trying to help as many as possible."
Following the bill, she is hoping for a speedy action in her case from Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
"National Women's Commission has told me that Red Corner Notice is issued against my husband and father-in-law. I have sent copies of the warrants to Indian missions and ministries in the UAE. The local authorities in the UAE should also take notice of my plight. The UAE wouldn't want to keep criminals in their country," she added.
3 distressed Indian wives seek help every day
Indian parents are obsessed with NRI grooms but not all big fat weddings lead to life-long partnership. Between January 2014 and December 2018, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs has addressed 5,379 complaints of distressed Indian women abandoned or harassed by their NRI spouses. It's an average of 1,000 cases per year and three in 24 hours.
What's the new Bill?
>Proposes mandatory registration of marriage within 30 days
>If the marriage isn't registered within 30 days, passport of the NRI will be revoked and summons and warrant be issued
>If he fails to appear in court, his properties will be attached and he will be declared 'proclaimed offender'
Click/tap here to subscribe to Khaleej Times news alerts on WhatsApp. Make sure you save the phone number under Contacts on your phone for uninterrupted service.ERROR: Macro /ads/dfp-ad-article-new is missing!