Mandatory Registration Of NRI Marriages Within 7 Days

Published on 15 Jun 2018 by Shivi

Indians always fancy ‘imported’ things from abroad, be it exotic chocolates, fine wine, or even a groom for their daughters. However, this obsession often costs innocent lives as it leads them to despair, solitude, torture and even abandonment by the NRI grooms who often end up leaving the wife right after getting married.

NRI marriage means the solemnization of a marriage between an Indian and an Indian residing in another country or a Non-Resident Indian (NRI), either as Indian citizen or a citizen of another country or Person of Indian Origin (PIO).

NRI fraud has been rampant in the country due to the undying fascination of Indians with sending their daughter to a foreign in a hope to give them a better life. However, women in such marriages are at an increased risk of dissertation and isolation by the husband.

A woman often ends up completely isolated, far away from home in a foreign land, unaware of the local laws, dealing with language constraints and communication problems. The problems faced by them range from assault, cruelty, abandonment to being locked in a house without any food or water supply. Husbands receive lucrative dowry and once their purpose is fulfilled they leave their wives to fend for themselves or sometimes to die.

NRI Marriage Registration Process

When both the man and woman follow the Hindu religion, the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 is applicable to them. In case, they both belong to different religions, a marriage can be solemnised under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. The present law states that a marriage between an Indian citizen and an NRI can be registered through the following process:

  1. Filing of a notice for marriage through a family law lawyer in India.
  2. Publication of notice by the Registrar to invite objections against the marriage,
  3. Receiving objections and conducting of inquiry by the Registrar within 30 days.
  4. Signing of a marriage declaration in case no objection is received.
  5. Grant of the marriage certificate by Marriage Certificate Registrar.

The Recent Changes in NRI Marriage Registration

In the background of this scenario, the Ministry of Women and Child Development, on June 14 declared that all NRI marriages need to be compulsorily registered within 7 days of the solemnisation of marriage. A failure to do the same would directly affect the grant of passports and visa for the NRI.

The move to come into implementation at the ground level will require amendment in the Code of Criminal Procedure, Passport Act and Marriage Act, with multi-fold consequences.

The mandatory registration of NRI marriages is expected to serve as a safety valve, wherein the wife’s legal rights will be enforceable in law, the husband won’t be permitted to flee without a legal stamp of marriage and the wife won’t leave the home country without an assurance or security.

The move also stands as the first step in protecting rights of the wife if the husband married her despite having a living wife. The marriage registration will act as evidence in eyes of law in prosecuting him for the offence of bigamy.

Another important proposal made in the meeting was to hold the properties of NRI offenders in escrow in cases where they abandon their spouse and abscond from the country. Escrow is a legal concept in which a financial instrument or an asset is held by a third party on behalf of two other parties that are in the process of completing a transaction. Thus, in the instant situation, the concept will be applicable so as to hold the property of such absconding NRI husband for the time being.

It has been recommended by the Law Commission that the registration should be done within 30 days post which a fine of Rs. 5 per day would be applicable. However, the same is not codified.

The move that makes NRI marriage registration mandatory within 7 days, not only leads to a need for amendments in the existing law but also requires a change in formalities, customs and other rules governing marriages in India. The plight of abandoned women has been an issue of concern for a long time. This is just a small step towards providing women who are lured by NRIs into marriage, a legal machinery wherein they can seek redressal of their issues. If put into motion, this will definitely act as a shield for those women.

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