NEW DELHI: The Union Women and Child Development Ministry is unhappy with the Union Law Ministry’s rejection of a crucial proposal that threatens to put a brake on its plan to toughen the laws for NRI men who abandon their wives.
The WCD ministry had proposed a slew of measure to protect the interests of thousands of women who are dumped by their NRI husbands after wedding but a provision involved serving them summons through a dedicated website—a clause that the Law Ministry has questioned.
“Following discussions with the Home and External Affairs ministries we had prepared a draft on prescribing harsher punishments for NRI wife deserters which included several changes in the CrPC act,” a senior WCD ministry official said.
“One of the suggestions was that since the wife deserters do not receive summons, the summons should be uploaded on a special website and if they fail to respond to it despite three notices—they will be considered as absconders,” the official explained. “However, the law ministry had questioned the legality of the clause.”
Our proposal was that all Indians who go abroad after marriage will require registering on a specially created website and in case of any marital disputes in future, this website will serve as a portal where all notices will also be served.”
Other officials in the ministry argued that at present, notices are issued in newspapers—after NRI men do not respond to summons issued-- which probably nobody reads.
Also recently the Delhi High Court had ruled that summons delivered on through messaging app WhatsApp will be considered legal if there are two double ticks, he said.” In such case, there is no reason why the law ministry should reject our proposal on the issue of validity,” another official contended.
In the draft report that was sent to the law ministry, the WCD ministry had also proposed measures such as impoundment or cancellation of passport and attachment of their property in India but the rejection of the clause to issue summons through the website means that other provisions cannot also go through.
“However, we are not yet giving up on the proposal and will pursue the matter with the Law Ministry further. After all, these decisions were taken following several meetings of a group of ministers,” the official said.
Though there is no government data on the number of women deserted by grooms, papers published by some NGOs in recent times have estimated that there were about 25,000 abandoned women living in Punjab and Gujarat each- deserted shortly after weddings.
There are thousands of others in states like Delhi, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.