are generally understood as marriage between Indian
women from India and Indian man residing outside India. NRI means non-resident
Indian and the NRI man marries an Indian women the NRI man does not need to be
citizen of India, he can be a legal PIO (Person of Indian Origin). All marriages
containing these people would result in NRI marriages.
The problem arises when the families of such Indian women become eager to get
their daughter married to such lucrative marriage proposals and they totally
ignore the common cautions that are required during the marriages such as
traditional matchmaking, thus if things go wrong there the women has very
limited legal remedies and there is a very complex process for getting justice.
The risk in such a marriage is increased since the woman is "isolated" distant
from home in a foreign country, facing language barriers, communication issues,
and a lack of accurate information about the local criminal justice, police, and
legal system. The deserted woman is left entirely helpless and stranded, and the
situation is made worse by the absence of a social and financial support.
Following are some instances where the issue of NRI marriages can be
The legal issues or problems relating to NRI marriages being faced by
Indian women include:
- Women married to an NRI abandoned even before taken by her husband to
the foreign country of his residence.
- Woman was brutally beaten, assaulted, physically and mentally abused,
starved, confined, and poorly treated before being forced to flee or being
- A quick engagement, a huge wedding, and a big reception, dowry,
honeymoon, and then the NRI husband departs on a flight while the wife is in
India awaiting her visa.
The menace of 'honeymoon brides' is a big problem to deal with as over
20,000 brides have not seen their husbands after their honeymoon. There is a
desire in Indian girls to get married and to go abroad, there are motives on
both sides of the matrimonial alliance and not just the girl but through
them their family members also seek to migrate abroad.
Thus, NRI Marriage is seen as means to migrate abroad for not just the bride
but also for her family members.1 1 National Commission for Women, The
Nowhere Brides: Report on Problems Relating to NRI Marriages, (2011) Factors
responsible for fraudulent NRI Marriages • A prospective groom, "carries a
great status in India if he is a permanent resident or citizen of a Western
The attraction of getting a groom serving or earning abroad is strong enough
to lure many middle-class families to marry their daughters to NRIs. In the
eagerness not to let go this opportunity, the families totally ignore the
common cautions that one must take in traditional arranged matchmaking. Most
of these marriages are conducted in such a hasty manner and without proper
verification of the family of the groom.
Thus, the groom is a stranger whose only attraction is that he is a NRI.
Such alliances with NRIs are seen as promises of better future not just for
the bride but for her entire family. Thus, the parents of the bride feel
that the girl's marriage will result in gateway for the other members of the
family to go abroad".2 • It is often seen that the family of the bride ask
or try enhance the social status of the NRI men.
- The family of bride consider the locally available grooms as either
educated or unemployed, therefore making the local groom inferior to NRI
groom. The girls parent think that their daughter will have a better and
prosperous life if she is married to a NRI groom.
- In most of the cases, the girls themselves like to get married to an NRI
due to the peer pressure. They dream of freedom and open society in foreign
countries and believe that the easy way for their dream to come true is to
marry an NRI. In other cases, the girls just succumb to the wishes of their
2 Ibid Cases Related to NRI Marriages Woman married to an NRI was abandoned
even before being taken by her husband to the foreign country of his
residence. After a short honeymoon in India, the husband went back to his
foreign country promising to send her travel documents, ticket, visa etc.
but that never happens.
- In case of Neerja Saraph v. Jayant Saraph, the wife who got
married to a software engineer employed in the United States was still
trying to get her visa to join her husband who had gone back after the
marriage, when she received the petition for annulment of marriage filed by
her NRI husband in the US court. In many cases the woman would already have
been pregnant when he left and so both she and the child were abandoned.
The husband never called or wrote and never came back again. The in-laws who
would still be in India would either plead helplessness or blatantly refuses
to help the innocent girl.3 Women who went to her husband's home in the
other country only to face domestic violence, to be brutally battered,
assaulted, abused both mentally and physically, malnourished, confined and
ill-treated by him in several other ways. She was therefore either forced to
flee or was forcibly sent back. She may not be allowed to take her children
with her in most cases and in many cases the children are forcibly taken
away from the woman.
- In case of Venkat Perumal v. State of A.P, the wife was subjected
to harassment, humiliation and torture during her short stay at Madras as
well as US and when she refused to accept the request of her husband to
terminate her pregnancy, she was dropped penniless by her husband at Dallas
Airport in the US and she returned back to India with the help of her aunt
and on the account of the humiliation and agony she suffered miscarriage at
Hyderabad.4 3 Neerja Saraph v. Jayant Saraph (1994) 6 SCC 461 4
Venkat Perumal v. State of A.P II (1998) DMC 523 Legal Issues Involved
in NRI Marriages The incidents of failed and fraudulent marriages of Indian
women with NRIs are rapidly increasing day by day.
- Issues related to child custody
In recent times dispute related to child custody has been surfaced out of
the fraudulent NRI Marriages. In some cases, fathers forcibly take away the
child abroad, while in others, mothers return with their child to India
finding it difficult to live in a hostile environment in the foreign
country. In doing so they might be violating the custody and visitation
orders granted by foreign courts.
Following are some cases related to child custody In case of Sarita
Sharma v. Sushil Sharma, the husband had filed a case for divorce in
American courts and while the legal battle for custody was still on, both
the parties having been appointed as managing conservators of the children,
the wife brought the children to India, allegedly without even informing the
husband. It was alleged by the husband that the children were in illegal
custody of Sarita Sharma and the High Court had allowed the petition and
directed Sarita to restore the custody of two children to the husband.5
- Issues related to divorce and separation
In most cases of NRI marriages husbands abandon their wives for the
termination of marriages and after such abandonment of wives in their
original countries and initiate divorce proceedings in foreign lands. These
proceedings are full of problems for the women who are abandoned outside the
country, and since the wife has no resources, she is not able to go abroad
to contest the proceeding and the husbands easily procures an ex-parte
divorce decree. The wives do not have financial support to hire a lawyer to
represent their rights and contest on their behalf. Thus, most of these
abandoned women are forced to accept an exparte divorce without contesting
it. 5 Sarita Sharma v. Sushil Sharma (2003) 3 SCC 14
- Issues related to maintenance and execution of maintenance orders
Marriage with an NRI is considered to be the easiest way to migrate abroad.
However, they mostly turned out to be fraudulent and pose serious repercussions
not only for the woman and her family but also for the society as a whole. Areas
of family law in which the problems of jurisdiction are seen occurring very
frequently relate to dissolution of marriage, maintenance issues, validity and
execution of foreign court orders, inter-parental child abduction, succession of
property of non-resident Indians. However, the problems in NRI marriages are
complex but the solutions are few or non-existent.
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