In Focus

Seminar discusses amendments to tackle NRI marriages and disputes

Manu Shrivastava | Mumbai

The Family Court Bar Association, Mumbai organised a seminar on the 29th Foundation Day of the Family Court Mumbai on 7 October 2018 at the National College in Mumbai. The topic of the seminar was ‘Indian Women Getting Married to NRIs and NRI Marital Disputes’. Family Court Mumbai Principal Judge Shailaja Sawant gave the welcome speech and congratulated the association on the achievement. Family Court Bar Association Mumbai I/C President Angana Pradhan addressed the audience comprising mainly lawyers and law students, in the introductory speech, followed by Family Courts Maharashtra Guardian Judge Justice Revati Mohite Dere.

Inaugural session of the seminar

Bombay High Court Acting Chief Justice Naresh Patil spoke at length about the changing legal scenario in the country and the need for increased sensitivity of family courts. He said a Government of India ordinance has made it mandatory to have a mediation process for a suit. There is a proper structure for mediation that includes a fixed fee as opposed to the pro bono or honorary basis earlier. He spoke of the initiatives towards making courts child-friendly where the children can depose, fearlessly, in case of offences against minors and not in the regular stressful court atmosphere.

Bombay High Court Acting Chief Justice Naresh Patil addressing the audience

“Family courts deal with families and unless the issue is settled in court, the affected won’t be able to settle in life or move on in life. So, it is imperative to expedite the process for early disposal of cases,” he added. Justice Patil suggested that family court cases should be settled in less than five years and lawyers and judges should work in that direction by streamlining judicial procedures, training lawyers to present arguments in lesser time, etc. He noted that the judiciary is not seeing a shift from litigation to settlement. He advised the increased involvement of law students in Lok Adalats and counselling processes to tap into their energy and sea of fresh ideas. On the issue of NRI marriages and disputes, he said the judiciary must keep in mind that natural and biological relations are superior than statutory bindings and the aim should be to restore just that.

The next session ‘How to Address Issues related to Marriage of Indian Nationals to Overseas, Welfare of Emigrants’ was addressed by Ministry of External Affairs Director and Protector of Emigrants Mumbai Jayan Kumar Sao. He highlighted the fact that the ministry issues 3,00,000 licenses every year to emigrants who go abroad to work. However, there are many more who resort to crossing borders illegally. In his comprehensive presentation, Mr Sao spoke at length of the various government schemes and initiatives to safeguard the interests of Indian emigrants, particularly women such as Pravasi Bhartiya Bima Yojana which compulsorily insures an emigrant for Rs 10 lakh each.

“There are several issues in Gulf countries as they need an exit visa issued by the employer which often causes hurdles in safe return of emigrants,” he added. The portal www.madad.gov.in, a government initiative has all the information for emigrants and the e-locker feature saves a copy of all the necessary documents that emigrants need in case a situation arises.

On the issue of NRI marriages, he detailed the various kinds of frauds committed by the NRIs and how women and their families in India can safeguard their interests by taking precautionary measures, doing necessary inquiries and checks, etc. He listed the steps families can take before solemnising marriage to an NRI, something as basic as keeping and checking copy of passport and visa type of the NRI would-be-groom. His presentation continued to detail what a woman can do if she has been cheated, defrauded by her NRI husband.

The final session of the seminar on the topic ‘Critical Analysis of Proposed Bill for NRI Marriages and Disputes’ was addressed by Former Mayor of Mumbai Advocate Nirmala Prabhavalkar who has also been the Ex-Member of National Commission for Women (NCW) and Ex-Chairperson of Maharashtra State Commission for Women. She gave a presentation analysing the proposed amendment that will affect many cases of frauds in NRI marriages. She informed the audience of the NRI Cell in the NCW that is dedicated to address complaints made by women cheated or defrauded by NRI husbands and families.

Former Mayor of Mumbai Advocate Nirmala Prabhavalkar making her presentation

She said the main reason why women get cheated is because of the blind obsession and illusion of NRI marriage and the dream of a life abroad. She added the cases that were earlier restricted to NRI fraudsters from Punjab taking brides to the UK have now spread to all parts of the country owing to access to technology and multiple platforms who sell the dream of NRI marriages. The seminar concluded with a vote of thanks by Family Court Bar Association Mumbai Secretary Paresh Desai.

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