Abandoned As Brides By NRI Husbands, 8 Women Entreat SC For Help

The SC will hear the pleas of 8 women who were abandoned as brides by NRI husbands. Here's why the plea and the hearing are important.

The SC will hear the pleas of 8 women who were abandoned as brides by NRI husbands. Here’s why the plea and the hearing are important.

Most Indian women are fed a similar dream from an early age. The dream isn’t of getting proper education and fulfiling their dreams. Instead, it is to find a husband who will fulfil her dreams and will keep her happy forever. And what’s better is if the man is a Non-Resident Indian (NRI).

However, what happens when all these dreams turn into a horrible nightmare of exploitation by the same NRI husband?

The Supreme Court of India recently announced that in July, it would hear the pleas of women who are seeking the arrest of their NRI husbands. These women alleged they were financially, emotionally and physically exploited by their husbands.

According to a report by The Print, around 40,000 women have fallen prey to such men and many of them are left in poor financial, emotional and health conditions. This cause of worry was brought to notice when a plea was filed by eight women who were allegedly abandoned as brides by their husbands living abroad.

Following the plea, in November 2018, the apex court issued a notice to the Central Government. This notice directed the government to file an affidavit within six weeks on the feasibility of formulating a policy on the issue of bringing to book the NRI men who abandon their wives.

Why was the plea filed by the women?

According to The Print, the petitioners had to run from pillar to post and even beg the police officials to file a simple FIR. Since there is no specific law to initiate legal action against their absconding husbands, they had to approach the apex court.

The petition mentions, ‘According to the guidelines, it should take 120 days, but in reality, it could take up to six months.’ The lead petitioner Smita Kudaisya said, ‘We filed a plea in the Supreme Court as a last resort. The law needs to change.

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In 2018 the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) revoked the passport of at least 25 NRI men who had abandoned their wives in India. However, it took a lot of time to take proper action.

The government has also revoked the passports of NRI men who abandoned their wives shortly after marriage or following marital disputes. These passports were revoked due to the increase in the number of complaints of domestic violence and abandonment from women against their NRI husbands.

The court’s ‘effective’ measures

According to the lead petitioner, the SC should have a set of binding guidelines for the Centre and other authorities for such issues. These guidelines need to be followed by the police, immigration services and Indian embassies across the world. This will help bring speedy justice to the women deserted by their NRI husbands.

Here are the guidelines that were suggested:

  • Immediate FIR and investigation to prosecute the accused in a fast-track court on complaints of cheating, harassment, deceit, fraud, cruelty, mental and physical torture, demands of dowry, desertion, criminal intimidation, criminal assault, vulgar abuses, misappropriation of stridhan articles and criminal conspiracy and the like.
  • Any non-bailable warrant or summons issued to the husband residing abroad should be served by email or Whatsapp immediately.
  • Immediate action by the Police on a complaint made by implementing search and seizure action.
  • Police should be directed to intervene immediately when a woman abandoned by her NRI husband complains that she is being forced out of her matrimonial home by relatives of the husband and others.
  • The Centre must frame a scheme for reasonable financial support, employment, health care benefits, children’s education, housing and the like, where the abandoned woman is financially destitute and is unable to take care of herself and her children.
  • Indian embassies/high commissions should be directed to play a proactive and compassionate role in defence of the abandoned NRI woman by locating the whereabouts of the husband, engaging legal counsel abroad to represent the woman.
  • To immediately allow circulation of a look-out circular in cases of absconding husbands and in-laws after an FIR or complaint is registered.
  • Passport should be impounded and revoked if the accused is absconding or resisting return to India after the court has ordered summons or a warrant for arrest.
  • The National Legal Aid Services Authority and the state authorities should be directed to provide free legal aid by appointing competent counsel in all cases of complaints by such abandoned brides.

Why do we need this framework?

According to a report in The Wire, these women are often shamed and asked questions like ‘Who asked you to marry an NRI?’ by the government. Such statements don’t just promote a negative approach but also belittle women’s rights.

In some cases, the plea said that the woman would be pregnant when her husband left her, so both she and the child were abandoned. And in some other cases, the women were financially and sexually exploited. Thus, without a proper legal framework, an abandoned woman who is financially destitute and unable to take care of herself and her child has to live a rough life.

So having a proper system in place may ensure than no other women are subjected to such adversities in life under the pretext of marriage. These measures can play a proactive and empathetic role in coming to the rescue of abandoned women. 

Also, these measures may help in preventing any malpractices like sexual assault and frauds by punishing culprits by following strict legal procedures.

Here’s hoping that the Supreme Court’s hearing in July brings respite to the women who have faced these difficult times and avoid similar incidents.

Picture credits: Vivek from Pexels via Canva 

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About the Author

Deepti Gautam Mehta

A research scholar, A house-maker, A mother, and playing all the possible roles a woman could play at 34. But above all, I am a wanderer who is often entangled in her own mind read more...

6 Posts | 15,431 Views

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