12 Sep :Compulsory Marriage Registration, Identification and Tracking of Spouses, Effective Summons, Fast Disposal of Cases, Higher Funding of Litigation in Foreign Courts on the anvil.Compulsory registration of marriages, proper identification and tracking system, fast tracking of cases through family courts, more effective serving of notices and summons, higher funding for defence of cases in foreign countries are among a series of measures decided by the government to deal with problems faced by Indian women deserted by their overseas Indian husbands.
Timely registration of FIR, suitable bilateral agreements with foreign countries and information campaign to educate prospective brides are among the other steps accepted by the Centre to counter the problem.
The decisions were arrived at in an inter-Ministerial meeting with the participation of the Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Mr. Vayalar Ravi, Minister of State for Women and Child Development Ms. Renuka Chowdhury and representatives of several other Ministries and organisations. The meeting adopted the recommendations of the inter-ministerial sub-committee appointed to study problems related to marriages of Indian women with overseas Indians.
The inter-ministerial sub-committee with Secretary, MOIA as Chairman and with representatives from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Women & Child Development, Ministry of Law & Justice, National Commission for Women, National Human Rights Commission and State Governments of Punjab and Andhra Pradesh as Members had been set up on 4th May 2007 with the mandate to study the problems faced by Indian women deserted by their overseas Indian spouses and give their recommendations on this matter.
The Inter-Ministerial meeting presided by Mr. Vayalar Ravi decided that all marriages solemnised in India should be compulsorily registered and pro-forma for registration of marriages should be uniform in all states and should contain all relevant information that would help in identifying the persons. The pro-forma for registration of marriages should also have columns, in the case of overseas Indians, for the social security number, passport particulars, ID card / labour card etc. to build a proper identification and tracking system. Ministry of Law and Justice would prepare an appropriate pro-forma and take it up with the State/UT Governments.
The meeting decided that States/Union Territories should pass on information regarding court orders against accused NRIs to Emigration Authorities to prevent such people from leaving India against court orders. Appropriate instructions may be issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs to the States/Union Territories to ensure that FIRs in such marriage disputes/problems are registered without any delay.
It was decided that litigations related to overseas Indian marriages should be taken up by fast track courts. It was felt that instead of building up a new system for these courts, this should be brought within the scope of the existing family courts. Efforts may be made to let the family courts clear the pending cases early and a mechanism may be put in place for regular monitoring of such cases.
The Meeting decided that the provisions on serving of notices, summons, enforcement of maintenance orders be made part of the mutual legal assistance treaties (MLAT) especially with USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand where problem of desertion of Indian women by overseas Indians is acute. Appropriate bilateral agreements may be considered with foreign countries with a view to protect the interests of Indian women victims of overseas Indian marriages.
Whenever there is an ongoing litigation in a foreign court, the Indian bride’s case should not go unrepresented. MOIA’s Scheme to assist Indian women in defending their cases abroad with US $1,000/ in each case should be enhanced substantially. The possibility of creating a flexi-fund may also be explored by pooling of money by Indian Associations. A matching grant from the government could be considered.
The Inter-Ministerial body decided that a vigorous information campaign is necessary at all levels using the media and NGOs to educate prospective brides and their families to take possible precautions before entering into marriage alliance with overseas Indians. Information brochure may be prepared by experts having knowledge of Private International Law on the working of the relevant Hague Conventions and procedures that is to be followed by the general public regarding serving of notices, summons etc. to parties staying abroad. Thereafter, a campaign may be launched to make the general public as also the concerned officers aware of these provisions.
The inter-ministerial meeting also decided that the National Commission for Women will, henceforth, be the coordinating agency at the national level to receive and process all the complaints related to Indian women deserted by overseas Indians.
It was suggested that a team of officers from Ministries of External Affairs, Law and Justice, Women and Child Development and Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs should visit USA, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand, the countries where the problem of deserted Indian women is acute to study local regulations, hold discussions on the issue with the concerned local authorities and determine the clauses which could be incorporated in the proposed agreements to assist the affected Indian women.
Various Ministries, departments, state governments and other agencies have been to take action on the basis of the decisions taken at the inter-ministerial meeting.