Law Commission recommends comprehensive law to deal with NRIs, OCIs marrying Indian citizens

Describing as “worrisome trend” the “rising” cases of fraudulent marriages between NRIs and Indian citizens, the Law Commission has proposed a thorough law to address the issue and mandatory registration of such unions.
In presenting the report titled “Legislation on Matrimonial Matters Concerning Non-Resident Indians and Overseas Citizens of India” to the Ministry of Law, Justice (Retd) Ritu Raj Awasthi, the chairperson of the panel, emphasised that the Commission advocates for a centralised law that comprehensively addresses all aspects related to the marriages of NRIs and foreign citizens of Indian origin with Indian citizens.
“The rising occurrence of fraudulent marriages involving Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) marrying Indian partners is a worrisome trend. Several reports highlight an increasing pattern where these marriages turn out to be deceptive, putting Indian spouses, especially women, in precarious situations,” PTI quoted Justice Awasthi as saying in his covering letter to Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal on Thursday.
The committee recommended that such legislation should extend its applicability not only to Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) but also to individuals falling under the definition of ‘Overseas Citizens of India’ (OCIs) as outlined in the Citizenship Act of 1955.
“It is further recommended that all marriages between the NRIs/OCIs and Indian citizens should be made compulsorily registered in India,” added Justice Awasthi .
He said the comprehensive central legislation should also include provisions on divorce, maintenance of spouse, custody and maintenance of children, serving of summons, warrants, or judicial documents on the NRIs and OCIs.
“Further, it is recommended that requisite amendments need to be introduced in the Passports Act, 1967 in order to mandate the declaration of marital status, the linking of a spouse’s passport with the other and mentioning of the marriage registration number on the passports of both the spouses,” he told the government.
The commission recalled that in order to deal with the emerging situation, the Registration of Marriage of Non-Resident Indians Bill, 2019, was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on February 11, 2019.
Initially, the 16th (previous) Lok Sabha referred the bill to the Committee on External Affairs. Subsequently, the same bill was again referred to the Committee on External Affairs after the 17th (present) Lok Sabha was constituted, for further examination.
As deliberations continued, the Law Commission received a reference on the NRI Bill, 2019 from the Ministry of External Affairs, conveyed through the Law Ministry in April last.
With inputs from agencies

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