Beware absconding NRI Husbands – Indian Government is seriously considering crucial changes in the criminal laws, as it aims to amend CrPC, the marriage registration act and passport rules to tighten the law and bring the non-resident Indian offenders to book.

Spurred by reports of several cases of “NRI husbands”, marrying women alluring an attractive lifestyle but instead deserting them, the Indian government is considering changes in the laws enabling confiscation of such absconding NRI husband’s share of joint property and prevention of alienation of commonly held land, thus building pressure on delinquent spouses who refuse to answer even the court summons.

A group of Indian cabinet ministers (GoM), comprising of senior ministers such as the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Women & Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi and Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad have shortlisted possible measures that will act as a deterrent and also assisting in delivering justice to wives in distress. Importantly, the GoM has felt that there is a strong need to find solutions, including even the innovative ones, to tighten the law and bring the non-resident Indian offenders to book.

The GoM has contemplated on several possible measures such as revocation of passports in case of husbands who fail to respond to summonses and declaring those as absconders. Compulsory registration of NRI marriages within 48 hours of a wedding being solemnized is another measure that will be put on fast track now. Also under consideration is a dedicated website for putting up unanswered summonses which will be set up by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). If husbands facing legal action refuse to answer or evade summonses, these will be deemed to have been served once they appear on this website. This is to deal with offenders who move countries and sometimes change identities to evade the legal process.

The move will take the shape of a Cabinet Proposal post the legal scrutiny. The GoM, which had considered the legal tenability of measures, have reportedly agreed to the changes in the law that will be required. According to officials, there will be a need to amend the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the marriage registration act and passport rules.

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