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March 06, 2011

Page: 27/39

Home > 2011 Issues > March 06, 2011

Punjab home to 30,000 deserted NRI brides
By Vibha Sharma

PUNJAB has about 30,000 ‘Nowhere Brides’ - the coinage often used to describe the women are deserted by their NRI husbands. And the count has been rising steadily. The findings were made public at a seminar organised by the National Commission for Women on February 16,2011.

Such cases of women getting trapped in fraudulent marriages with overseas Indians are prevalent throughout the country, but the issue is of grave concern in Punjab - the state where settling abroad is synonymous with every household.

At the seminar, a note was circulated among the participants whereby Punjab has called upon the Centre to constitute a new comprehensive legislation on such marriages so that legal remedies were in place for such brides.

The participants at the seminar, held to discuss issues related to NRI marriages, demanded that NRIs settled abroad and holding Indian passports should be made accountable under a special law.

"Special courts without legislation would have no meaningful purpose. A composite NRI law of marriage, divorce and maintenance, child custody and settlement of matrimonial property now needs to be enacted," Punjab has urged the Centre.

Besides, the state also wants a review of existing laws so as to widen the scope for providing effective remedies in fraudulent cases of NRI marriages. "The Passport Act 1967 and rules made thereunder should contain special provisions for the cancellation of the passport of an offending NRI spouse if he is an Indian Passport Holder. Likewise, the Citizenship Act 1955 can entail penalties for matrimonial fraud," it said

Chandigarh lawyer Ranjit Malhotra, a panelist at the seminar, said there were 15,000 such "deserted" brides in Doaba (Punjab) region alone. "In the absence of an adequate legal framework and awareness to protect their interests, the number of deserted NRI brides and high-end divorce cases is only rising."

Dealing specifically with such cases, Malhotra said that in order to counter the problem, registration of marriages, which is optional under Hindu Family laws, should be made compulsory.

Union Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath conceded that a separate legislation for NRI cases would take some more time as it required more in-depth study.

NCW chairperson Girija Vyas has also written to the government to consider bilateral agreements with countries like the US and the UK where NRI brides landed in difficult situations as divorces were obtained by their husbands while taking advantage of easy separation laws there.

The commission is also pushing for India to exercise its rights under Article 10 of the Hague Convention of 1968, which clarifies that nations were not bound by judgments taken in other countries, especially if they ran contrary to their own laws.


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