Rights of women in NRI marriages

NRI Marriages are in vogue these days. ‘NRI marriage’ is a marriage between an Indian citizen to another person who may or may not be of Indian origin but who is residing outside India.

Most of the times the couple in ‘NRI marriages’ do not get enough time to spend with each other as the person who is not residing in India has very little time and hence these marriages are performed in haste. The parents of the girl’s family are also happy with the prospect that their daughter will get a good exposure outside India. Trying to find compatibility of the couple becomes very difficult in the short span that is available.

It is in such times when the groom returns back to his country and the girl is left behind to complete procedures and paperwork of obtaining a visa. Or sometimes she goes there and comes across problems which she is unable to cope on her own. Her legal status changes, language can be a problem, she is not economically independent and hence vulnerable, etc. The fact that she does not have the family support which is easily available in India aggravates the situation for her.

In many cases the woman is ignorant of her rights and legal status. She does not have access to the law and judicial systems because of lack of information or lack of economic means.

If she decides to return to India there are high chances that the husband may initiate legal processes against her and she may not get a fair opportunity of defending herself. Thus she looses on her rights resulting into many losses for her.

If she comes back to India she is confused on what legal remedies she can avail especially since both of them are now in different countries. Can the orders given by the Indian Courts be executed against a person who is not residing in India? In some countries there are laws of parental abduction which puts a lot of stress on the mother who may not be able to take the custody of the child legally even as it is difficult to stay in the same country as her spouse.

Hence it is advised to take immediate assistance from lawyers to be able to handle the situation aptly.

Following are some Precautionary Measures to be taken in ‘NRI Marriage”

  1. Find out details about the person’s job, salary in the foreign country. Also try to find out his marital status through your network or friends, relatives, local Indian Associations etc. Background check can help in ensuring the details that have been provided to you are true and correct.

  1. Register the marriage that is performed in India, as it is in the interest of both bride and groom.

  1. Keep adequate proof like photographs, wedding invitation, identify proof of both bride and grooms etc.

  1. Keep contact details of neighbours, friends, relatives, employer, police and Indian embassy and High Commission always.

  1. Keep photocopies of essential documents like passport, bank, visa, marriage certificate, property documents with trustworthy people in India or abroad. This will help if your documents are forcefully kept away from you or are destroyed.

  1. Try to keep a list of NGOs who can help you.

  1. Contacts of lawyers providing legal guidance to know your rights and the action that you can take.

Assistance that you can seek from the ‘Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs’

Contact the Welfare Officer or Indian Community Service Officer in the concerned embassy.

They will then provide with some legal and financial assistance.

They can assist by connecting you to a NGO that can further assist you

Contact the police and maintain the details of the complaint like the time, date and place of the complaint, measures taken after the complaint, or any other relevant document related to the complaint made and action taken.

Points to remember

  1. If NRI husband abandons you in India, you can file a complaint with local police.

  1. National Commission for Women has been nominated as a co-ordination agency for dealing with issues pertaining to NRI marriages. Hence complaints can be registered with the NRI Cell of the National Women Commission.

  1. When a person who is citizen of India commits an offence outside India, it is presumed that the offence has been committed in India and hence the Indian Laws apply in such cases.

  1. Divorce obtained in other country with or without your knowledge is not valid in India. It will be valid in India only if you participated in that case.

  1. NRI marriage if performed in India it has to be dissolved in Indian Court following the due procedure.

  1. Regarding issues related to children the Court in India till the Apex Court has settled a principle that welfare of child is of paramount importance. Recently some of the High Courts like Maharashtra have decided on a parenting plan for children to decide custody related dispute.