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Social And Legal Aspects Of NRI Marriages

In today's time people are fascinated by the idea of settling outside India. Everyone dreams of having a job or business in other developed countries at least once in a lifetime. Those who get successful in the process of settling outside are called Non- Resident Indian. After settling outside, many of Indians especially male, tries to find Indian women for different sort of marriage purposes. Some of them think having same root in the family is important, some of them find prospect for extraction of dowry and they think that their status of being an NRI will add the amount of dowry or having a housewife in order to avoid other house expenses. Some people's family doesn't approve another religion marriage. The list is on and on.

Before independence, Indian citizen usually went to abroad for higher studies and came to their motherland to settle down but after independence, Indians started settling down outside our motherland.

This started the influence and dreams of migrating outside India, which led to NRI marriages popular in India as many women's families thought that their daughter would live a happy life outside India. This thinking of having a fairy tale lifestyle outside India especially in western countries like America, U.K, Russia or any other European countries has led to the popularity of such marriages. But the greed of such fairy tale lifestyle has led to many crimes and mental and physical suffering for women in India. Moving to a different place where everything is almost different has its own hardships.

Magnetism of NRI Marriages

The attraction towards NRI Marriages is because people have a mind-set that they can get more opportunities or they can earn more from those who work in India. Though this is clearly a misconception. This only depends on the work you are doing in India or in overseas. This in-turn gives a fairy-tale idea of marrying such a person who is Indian and work overseas. This leads to consequences as this makes them vulnerable in front of their husband to fraud and mental or physical abuse or both such as fake marriages, domestic violence or dowry.

NRI groom often extract huge amount of money or so-called gifts from the Indian bride's family where dowry demand is already excess, often leads to hefty amount of dowry to the NRI groom. Likewise, the fake immigrant agents who charge a huge amount of money for finding an NRI groom also causes mental abuse to the bride and its family. But in society like India where 'pride is everything' and social status is always a priority, for them all these consequences and abuses are a small price to pay for their status in the society.

The magnetism of marrying an NRI and living in a foreign land also, added pride of Indian family gets leads to fascination of NRI marriages. This, this is just a social norm that people are ready to do anything to retrieve it.

Social aspects and challenges in NRI Marriages

Of the 900 women who responded to a survey, over half of them say they dream of exploring their talent and having a great career. If 26 per cent want to make a difference to the world, only a meagre 13 per cent want a loving relationship.

This is the great shift - from home to herself. This is one of the revelations of a survey conducted by Sheroes - a social networking platform for women with about 2 million members - exclusively for ET Magazine. The typical profile of a Sheroes member is an urban woman between the ages of 20 and 35.[1]

The above context, it portrays that woman wants to have an independent life with financial independency. They do not want to be dependent on their husband and wants to settle in their life before marriage. But in NRI marriages it is not possible as wives are completely dependent on their husband due to lack in overseas experience. Also, husband don't give them space and do not usually allow them to work.

Most of these marriages are usually performed so that the family's pride can grow and the feelings of a bride is unattended. Many of the times it gets harder for the wife to get used to the foreign culture and face challenges in the adjustment while, the groom has already adjusted after living for a long time in overseas. This also leads to problem in a marriage and groom gets intolerable towards wife.

The women are also unaware to the frauds these marriages bring into their lives like leaving the bride in India just after marriage or lying about their status and property in order to extort huge amount of dowry and con women into marrying them or even in certain cases children are taken away from their mother. More worst-case scenario is mental and physical abuse on the women and lenient ways of getting divorce from them where they have nowhere to go.

Divorces in NRI Marriages

Earlier marrying an NRI wasn't very common. But after this became a trend, many men and women want to marry an Indian who is from foreign land and desire for a good quality of life. Even the parents want their daughter to settle outside for a good quality of life and status for their family.

However, some of the marriages end up in divorce. To seek divorce in foreign land, everyone in India should know the laws and provision provided by the Indian law for NRI Marriages and Divorce. Under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, if both the husband and wife want to end their marriage or want to seek divorce mutually then Indian law has given them exception to file the divorce in any country, they are residing[2]. But the Indian legal system will only recognize this divorce if it is with consent. There are certain situations where one of the spouses filed for ex-parte proceedings for divorce. Here are some sections and case laws which will elaborate this concept.

In the case of Y. Narasimha Rao & Ors. vs. Y. Venkata Lakshmi & Anr,[3] both the parties married in Tirupati as per Hindu customs. The appellant filed the petition for dissolution of marriage in the Circuit Court of St. Louis Country Missouri, U.S.A on the ground of irreversible breakdown of marriage. The respondent sent her reply in protest against the petition. The Circuit Court passed the decree for dissolution of marriage without the respondent. The appellant married another woman. The responded filed the criminal charge on the appellant for bigamy.

The Supreme Court of held that irretrievable breakdown of marriage is not the ground for divorce and both the appellant and responded married according to Hindu custom so, according to Section 13 of Civil Procedure Code, divorce in foreign land is only acceptable when it is mutual consent. Hence, the Supreme Court of India rejected the decree of Circuit Court St. Louis County Missouri, USA.

Another section related to divorce is Section 44A of Civil Procedure Code, which applies to those countries with whom India has reciprocal enforcement (Reciprocating Territories). Sec 44A allows the enforcement of judgments outside the Indian territory as if it is passed in India. This can be obtained by filing a duly certified copy of the said judgment in the appropriate court, which will then be executed in accordance with the laws on enforcement and execution of Indian judgments and orders.

When such a marriage ends up in a divorce then, it gets difficult for the wife and her children to survive by their own especially when the wife is home maker. The Indian law has given provision for the maintenance of the wife and the children. Under Section 18 of the Hindu Maintenance and Adoption Act, 1956 provides some conditions so that the wife can get the maintenance.

Some if the conditions are:
  • If the husband has treated the wife with cruelty.
  • If the husband is living with other wife.
  • If the husband has changed the religion without the consent of the wife.
  • Or, if the husband has died, then the wife is entitled to get maintenance from the estate of her husband.

Section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure provides maintenance to those women who can't maintain themselves irrespective of religion. The maintenance right is given to women during marriage, divorce, post-divorce, divorce proceedings. This section gives rights to the magistrate to impose maintenance order.

In Deepak Banerjee v. Sudipta Banerjee[4], it stressed the proposition that 'residence' for the purpose of conferring jurisdiction for maintenance includes the residence of the wife, since she cannot be expected to travel long distances, to foreign jurisdictions to obtain justice when she is claiming destitution.

So, the meaning of maintenance is giving financial aid to the wife and children by the husband.

Conclusion
Due to all these frauds and allure of NRI marriage and foreign visa, the Indian Government has taken steps for providing justice to women who has been the victim of NRI marriage or deserted by their husband in the foreign land. The legal system has taken several preventive and corrective measures for it.

The government agencies like The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and The National Commission of Women are creating awareness in population to women and their families to prevent themselves from such frauds and not risking into getting in a NRI marriage without proper background check. The Indian legal system is also in favour of registration of marriage to ease the process of getting relief.

The National Commission of India has the useful suggestions for do's and don'ts regarding this issue. The unawareness of social and legal aspect of these marriages also makes the wife prone to abandonment and abuse. As all the glitters are not gold similarly, not every NRI is stable and secure and such unawareness leads to various crimes against the wife.

References:
  • www.economictimes.com
  • www.researchgate.com
  • www.mea.gov.in
  • Information Technology Act, 2000 available at https://vakilsearch.com/
  • Information technology Act, 2000 available at https://nrilegalconsultants.in/
  • Official website of national commission for women
  • Strong laws needed to curb fraudulent NRI marriages; NGOs estimate nearly 50,000 such cases to be pending- by Mahasweta Das
  • Sham Marriages: Revenge of the Bride:
    https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/thebigstory/story/20190121-sham-marriages-revenge-of-the-brides-1427714-2019-01-15
  • The NRI Wives: The Plight of Abandoned Brideshttps://feminisminindia.com/2020/08/18/thenri-wives-the-plight-of-abandonedbrides/
End-Notes:
  1. Malini Goyal, What do urban women want? Here are some answers, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, Last Updated: March 04,2018; 11:25 AM, https://m.economictimes.com/magazines/panache/what-indian-urban-women-want-here-are-the-answers/amp_articleshow/63150874.cms
  2. Avani Mishra, How Can An NRI Seek A Divorce?, VAKIL SEARCH, Last Updated: October 20, 2020, https://vakilsearch.com/advice/can-nri-seek-divorce/#:~:text=If%20a%20Non%2DResident%20Indian,a%20divorce%20in%20another%20country.
  3. 1991 SCR (2) 821
  4. 1988 CriLJ 1627
Also Read:
  1. NRI Marriages
  2. NRI Marriages in India
  3. Grounds of Divorce in India

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