Aadhaar should be made mandatory for the registration of NRI marriages in India to tackle desertion and other marital issues, an inter-ministerial committee has recommended to the Ministry of External Affairs.
The proposal by the special committee on Indian passport holders getting married in India is aimed at protecting the rights of women who are deserted by their NRI husbands or become victims of domestic violence and dowry harassment abroad.
“It has been proposed that Aadhaar be a must-have for registration of NRI marriages (in India),” said a source privy to the contents of the report submitted to the MEA on August 30.
The Unique Identification Authority of India is working on a policy for the Aadhaar enrolment of NRIs, Overseas Citizens of India and Persons of Indian Origin. At present, all residents including Indian nationals and foreigners with valid visas can enrol for an Aadhaar number.
The panel also recommended that India amend its extradition treaties with various countries to include domestic violence as a criterion for seeking the custody of an accused. An official in the ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) said tracking an offender in NRI marriages was often difficult.
”The main issue is that serving of notice is difficult because you don’t have the address,” he said.
The report is only limited to NRIs and not anybody else of Indian origin living abroad, the source said. “We are only dealing with those who hold an Indian passport,” the source added.
The committee also suggested that the National Commission for Women (NCW) be made the nodal authority for looking into disputes arising out of such marriages. According to an NCW report, about 1300 such cases were registered by its NRI cell between 2005 and 2012.
The panel mooted that special teams consisting of officials of the MEA, Home Affairs and WCD be deputed in “10- 15 countries” from where such cases emanate. Apart from the UK, US, Canada and Australia, teams should also be posted to African and West Asian nations, it said.
The expert panel on NRI marriages was constituted last year under the chairmanship of retired Justice Arvind Goel, former chairman of the NRI Commission of Punjab, and comprises officials of the ministries of WCD, Home Affairs, MEA and the department of Telecommunications.
The NCW report commissioned in 2011, titled Laws Relating to NRI Marriages and their Impact on Women, lists the problems faced by women in such marriages.
“It has been noticed that sometimes the particulars of employment, immigration status, surname, property, earning status, marital status and other material particulars are wrongly supplied purposely by the prospective groom to con a girl into marriage for ulterior motives,” it said.
While hearing a batch of petitions challenging the Centre’s move to make Aadhaar mandatory, the Supreme Court last month unanimously declared that the right to privacy was a fundamental one. The judgement was limited to the issue of right to privacy and the question whether Aadhaar violates the right to privacy will be dealt with by a three-judge bench from November.
Published on 13 September 2017