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29-year-old Sarita married Melbourne-resident Shekhar Sharma* in May 2015.
But a year later, she was left behind in India by her husband after her mother died of cancer.
“After learning about my mother’s illness, he got me medically examined thrice. Following her death, he accompanied me to India but left after 20 days. He later told me I could also get cancer someday,” Sarita said.
Sarita is one among thousands of Indian wives who have been abandoned by their Non-Residential Indian (NRI) husbands.
The Indian government is now amending laws to address this issue.
PTI reports the Law Ministry has approved proposed amendments to three specific laws to help these abandoned NRI wives - the Marriage Act, the Passport Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
The proposed amendments will now be presented before the Cabinet for its approval, Rakesh Srivastava, Secretary of the Women and Child Development Ministry said.
What are the changes approved by Law Ministry?
The Marriage Act would be amended to make registration of NRIs’ marriages mandatory within seven days, failing which the passports and visas of the NRIs would be liable to be denied or revoked.
The amendment to the Passport Act will allow the government to seize the passport of an NRI husband if he fails to appear in a court to answer charges of abandoning his wife.
The amendment to the CrPC would allow the government to upload and display the summons against the spouse who has abandoned his wife, on the Ministry of External Affairs website.
It will also allow a court summons on the MEA website to be deemed as served without any further notice. If the person fails to respond despite the summons, they could be considered an absconder and their property would be liable to confiscated by the government.
“We also had a meeting with the Home Ministry and the Law Ministry, which have agreed to the amendment of the three laws. The amendment proposal would now be forwarded to the Cabinet,” Mr Srivastava said.
“We are hoping that it will be sent to the Cabinet next week.”
‘Escrow concept will benefit victims’
Australia-based Akashika Mohla who has been working closely with women abandoned by their NRI husbands in Australia said these new measures will help these women get justice.
“I believe the escrow concept will greatly benefit the current victims with absconding husbands, whose assets will be seized.
“In the last month, six look out circulars were issued, and five passports were revoked. This leaves the absconding husband with limited choice.
“These measures are a big message for the new generation,” Mohla told SBS Hindi.