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    Case of abandoned NRI brides: Supreme Court issues notice to the state

    Date : 21/11/2018

    Desertion of NRI brides

    The issue arises when these NRI men marry Indian women and then abandon them after dowry extraction and sexual exploitation. The wives are often deserted at crucial stages of pregnancy, and without any financial or family support. A string of legal issues follow, including procurement of stridhana, reluctance of the police in investigation, and the like. Also, the victims are shamed publically and some cases have also seen killing of the bride. A petition has been filed regarding the same in the Supreme Court of India by Ms Smita Kudaisya (through lawyers associated with HRLN) seeking relief for the abandoned brides.

    The petition asserts that the fundamental rights under Article 14 and 21 of the Indian constitution are violated in such cases. The petition prays for the following:
    – Laying down of binding guidelines, for the police as well as embassies for speedy justice to these brides.
    – The issues arising out of such incidents should be taken seriously and immediately reported by the police.
    – The courts should direct for seizure operations as and when necessary.
    – Framing of a scheme for abandoned brides who are left destitute by their husbands, often with children.
    – The Passport regulatory authorities should ensure impounding of Passports of the husbands, when required.
    – The petitioner also asks the court to exempt such females from any kind of court fees.
    – There is a need to set up awareness programmes for spouse visa applications in various Indian embassies.

    There are various legal issues that come up regarding such incidents. Firstly, the police are reluctant to take the crime seriously and even filing an FIR is very difficult. After filing, notices in the form of requests to attend the proceedings are sent to the groom’s family. This becomes ineffective as they are not bound to come, and generally, no one turns up. The non bailable warrants and court notices also take a long time to reach the accused, going by the guidelines issued for service of summons on people living abroad.

    Cases

    Ms. A got married to an Australian citizen of Indian origin. He, along with his mother, fled to Australia within a few days of their marriage, and they have been evading all police notices and court summons.

    Ms R got married to Mr T, a permanent resident of Canada. A large amount of money was taken as dowry. Ms R was molested, and was eventually thrown out when she got pregnant. She was barred from entering their matrimonial home by the in-laws.

    Ms R married a US citizen. He left shortly after the marriage and harassed her, asking for dowry. Thereafter, when she conceived, he abandoned her in India. Ms R ended up miscarrying, while the husband refused to accept all summons, claiming that he is a US citizen.

    Ms V married an NRI in Australia and was deserted at a time when she was two months pregnant. Traumatized by the incident, she suffered a miscarriage.

    A large number of woman fail to determine the location of their husbands. The embassies treat them as trivial issues and are not very helpful. The authorities of the foreign country refuse to give away the location of the husbands. It becomes difficult to seek extradition from these countries as no other country except Australia recognises dowry as a crime. Since the wives are taken on a tourist or spouse visa, the husbands have the power to withdraw their support, resulting in deportation of the wives. The authorities are reluctant to impound or revoke their passports. Due to ambiguity in rules, the authorities often take arbitrary approaches, asking for unreasonable documents. The family of the groom obstruct any attempts by the state to force their son to come back to India.

    An extreme consequence of filing cases is seen when absconding NRI husbands hire contract killers to murder their wives in India. This is done to stop them from taking any further legal action in the case. The abandoned brides receive no financial or legal aid from the state. The situation becomes worse even her parents do not wish to support her. The need of the hour is to look into these cases and provide maximum relief possible to the brides.

    The Supreme Court issued notice to to the government on the matter. Please find the order attached.

    Listen to Smita Kudaisya (Petitioner in the PIL for protection of abandoned NRI brides):

    35860_2018_Order_13-Nov-2018
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