Plea seeks guidelines to protect women abandoned in NRI marriages

New Delhi, March 22 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday sought the Centre’s response on a plea seeking directions to lay down guidelines for the police, immigration department and Indian embassies around the world to ensure speedy justice for women abandoned by their NRI husbands.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian issued notice on a plea by NGO Pravasi Legal Cell and others. The plea, filed through advocate Jose Abraham, raised the challenges faced by women in NRI marriages. In many such marriages, they are abandoned by the husband before being taken to the country of his residence. “This is one of the typical instances where after a quick engagement, followed by a massive wedding and a huge dowry, the NRI husband flies out of India while the wife waits for her visa”, said the plea.
The plea argued that in such cases, the husband abandons his legally wedded wife on the false promise of ticket to the country of his residence. The plea cited that in many instances, the woman would have already got pregnant when the husband left, as a consequence both her and the child (who was born later) were abandoned.
The plea also raised another issue where women after marriage are taken to the foreign country, and later abandoned there. “In such cases a woman who went to her husband’s home in a foreign country only to be brutally battered, assaulted, abused both mentally and physically, ill-fed, and ill-treated by him in several other ways. She was therefore either forced to flee or was forcibly sent back”, the plea contended.
The petitioner has made the Ministry of External Affairs, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Law and Justice and the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare, respondents in the matter. The top court is likely to take up the matter in July.
The plea contended that a woman abandoned or duped by her NRI husband has to face obstacles beginning from lodging an FIR against the husband as the police are reluctant take the crime seriously. Also there is an issue with the service of court notices or non-bailable warrant due to absence of correct overseas addresses of spouses.
The plea added these offences are treated as matrimonial cases of 498A only, and not as cheating or fraud, as the intention of the offenders are mainly to dupe the victims and their families, and then flee to a foreign country.
The plea said police throughout the country should be directed to immediately intervene when complaints are made by women abandoned by her NRI husband, or they are being forced out of their matrimonial home by the relatives of the husband and others.

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