Law Commission Advocates Mandatory Marriage Registration for NRIs and OCIs

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Law Commission Advocates Mandatory Marriage Registration for NRIs and OCIs

| Updated: February 16, 2024 19:52

In a bid to protect Indian women from fraudulent marriages and subsequent abandonment by their Non-Resident Indian (NRI) or Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) spouses, the 22nd Law Commission has recommended making marriage registration mandatory for all NRIs and OCIs in its latest report.

The report proposes a new procedure for registering marriages involving NRIs, which includes notifying the district Marriage Officer. The notice will then be displayed for 30 days, allowing anyone to object to the wedding.

The recommendations, part of the commission’s 287th report, suggest revising the pending Registration of Marriage of Non-Resident Indians Bill, 2019 (NRI Bill). The proposed changes would extend the bill’s scope to include OCIs and introduce several new provisions. These provisions include penalties for failing to register a divorce, maintenance, child support, and the service of warrant and summons, as well as penalties for non-compliance.

The report was published in response to a reference from the Ministry of External Affairs last year, supplementing the ongoing parliamentary deliberations on the NRI Bill. The Law Commission highlighted the increasing instances of fraudulent marriages where women, lured by false promises, marry NRIs and OCIs, only to be abandoned or financially exploited.

The report points out that these women often lack legal recourse as the prospect of greater social security, educational opportunities, and professional growth often leads to hasty marriages without proper registration or verification of the NRI spouses’ claims. Consequently, women are exposed to risks such as desertion, domestic violence, and isolation from any form of social or familial support while living abroad.

In addition to expanding the NRI Bill, 2019, the Law Commission recommends amending the Passport Act, 1967, to require a declaration of marital status in a person’s passport. It also suggests establishing a separate division in the Ministry of Home Affairs or External Affairs to serve as a registry for NRI and OCI marriages.

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